With her background at the Institute of Graphic Arts at Moscow Polytechnic University, Anna Nezhnaya’s focus lies in the medium of drawing. After moving from Moscow to Berlin in 2014, she studied fine arts at the Caspar David Friedrich Institute at Greifswald University. Since then, her work has reinterpreted traditional representations of space and placed them in a contemporary context. From the beginning, light in space has played a major role in her work, and the painterly effect of light structures in large sacred buildings has been investigated.

Upon closer observation, one notices that physical rules are not always realistically implemented in Anna Nezhnaya’s work, thus creating a surreal effect. A conflict between light and shadow is created, and it is not always clear what creates the light, or what is the origin of it, because the scenarios are not in reality, but arise from the imagination of Anna Nezhnaya. Over time, the abstract-looking light objects evolve, and female or animal bodies can start to be perceived in the light. There are direct references to other prominent works in art history as well as creatures of Jewish and Christian mythology, such as the succubus or other hybrid creatures of human and animal decent. Through Anna Nezhnaya’s use of new painting techniques and her interest in new media, the first digital drawings are created, which begins her creative process. Existing pictures of paintings and objects are captured by Anna Nezhnaya and painted over digitally with contrasting colors. The fine colored lines schematically represent a structure in the digital sketches, which begins to glow on its own. What at first seems abstract will soon take shape. For Anna, It makes sense to let a drawing glow by itself and exclude external lighting. Instead of using a light source that illuminates the work from behind or indirectly, the focus should be on the lines of the drawing itself. Only neon lighting can fulfill the requirements of a luminous line. What previously existed only in the paintings can now be experienced in reality or a three dimensional space. The viewer can step into the depicted scenes, and if strategically positioned, one can have the feeling of being immersed in another world. 

Parallel to the production of the light sculptures, Anna Nezhnaya’s work as a painter is also evolving. She is looking for alternatives to the classic oil and acrylic paint mediums and experiments with spray paint, different varnishes and watercolor. Satisfying results are achieved by dripping and pouring varnish onto the canvas. The surface of the painting becomes very smooth and shiny after drying. The painting visually looks as if it is still wet and reflects the light emanating from the neon works. The technique is an ideal companion for the neon sculptures. The content of the paintings extends the representation of the neon light objects. 

Written by Federico Brauer / Translated by Lauren Völkel