When our Circle Culture gallery manager, Lauren Voelkel, first introduced us to Iryna Maksymova’s paintings, we were immediately drawn in and felt an instant deep connection with her work and outlook on life. The Ukrainian artist captures a fresh view on contemporary figurative painting; is full of energy; and in her very own nature, is positive about life. Inspired by Ukrainian folklore, she depicts her figures and patterns nonchalantly in a way that elicits comic book figures. Her work concentrates on the sensitivity, pride, and confusion human beings can experience in their lives, and animals play a key role in her mid and large-size paintings. They are created intuitively using the most diverse techniques and media. Oil sticks, acrylics, markers, scratches … anything goes when Iryna is creating and she uses any available materials at hand. During her intense creative process, she pours out her emotions and feelings directly onto the canvas and paper drawings. Another technique she has been experimenting with is stitching collage-style fabric blankets which resemble paintings and have challenged her understanding of art production.
When the war broke out in Ukraine, we immediately reconnected with Iryna and invited her to flee to our artist residency at Maison des Temps in Alsace, France. After a detour through Portugal, she arrived with her friend, also called Iryna, and enjoyed the quiet apartment and the large studio space. She worked hard throughout the long summer days and nights to produce this wonderful show that we are proud to present in Berlin at the Circle Culture Gallery.
Because of the current situation in Ukraine, war plays an, at least, undergoing role in the works Iryna created at the residency. Women, children, and animals are at the moment especially vulnerable and threatened in many ways in Ukraine. Through her paintings, Iryna empowers women and animals by portraying them in scenes of power, positivity, and collaborative self-confidence. They are surrounded by bright colors and shapes; they are in movement and they are looking ahead to a brighter future.
My wife, Gianna, and I feel blessed to have hosted the Irynas and admire the willpower and optimism these young women exude in times of war. After returning to their hometowns in Ukraine, they continue to persevere and fight incessantly for the good, the strong, and the much-needed beauty of life through art.
Johann Haehling von Lanzenauer, Curator
The artist, who was born in the small town of Kolomyia Ukraine, and graduated from the graphic design department of Lviv Polytechnic National University in 2013, began her artistic journey in 2020 with her first solo show in Lviv. Since then, she has participated in various group shows in Ukraine and around the world including New York, London, Madrid, Beijing, and Los Angeles.
To support Ukraine through these dark times of war, we will be donating 10% of art sales to the Ukrainian charity of Iryna’s choice: U-Aid.