In August I had the privilege of visiting Yulia’s studio. In a residential area of Amsterdam, I follow Yulia up a wooden staircase that led to her atelier nested beneath the roof of her home. I could not help but notice how the staircase itself transformed into a vibrant, abstract work of art: with each step, the patches of green, red and yellow paint intensified, setting the stage for what lay ahead.
Yulia initially struck me as somewhat reserved, quietly absorbing the ambiance and carefully analyzing our dialogue and body language. However, as our conversation delved into her work, a remarkable transformation occurred. Her eyes lit up, and it became abundantly clear that Yulia was not discussing mere “work” but rather sharing her profound passion.
Having previously restored religious icons in her homeland of Russia, Yulia had felt constrained in her creative expression. Her journey to Amsterdam, in this sense, had opened up new and exciting avenues. Yulia’s intention had never been to create “just art”; her art became an integral part of her integration into a new country. Allow me to elaborate. In the Netherlands, it is customary to bring home flowers from the weekly grocery shopping or visit to the local market. Yulia aimed to recreate that experience, gifting viewers the sensation of bringing a weekly bouquet of happiness into their homes. As I admired Yulia’s works in her studio, it was heartwarming to witness how her initial idea of a bouquet had blossomed into a lush meadow of wildflowers.
What struck me most about Yulia was her humility. She quietly contemplated what defines an artist, even questioning whether she could be considered one. However, when I observed the multitude of works ready to be picked up and considered the numerous galleries standing in line to represent her art, any doubt about the terminology seems out of place.
Leaving her studio, I felt grateful for the insight into the person behind the paintings. I was also increasingly confident that she would continue to captivate our gallery colleagues and art enthusiasts worldwide.