'Lubo', Veronica Smirnoff

Oval painting of a figure

2009, Tempera on wood, 69 x 50.5 cm

Artist's statement

I use the traditional medium of egg tempera to paint onto gessoed wood panels. This ancient technique is historically associated with Russian and Greek icon painting and is still employed by the Orthodox community. My work references the aesthetic and allegorical traditions of this visual culture. It maintains a symbolic appearance which is disrupted by the incorporation of imagery and stylistic elements from other sources, including early Renaissance and miniature painting, folk art, cartoons, the media and contemporary fashion.

My working process is influenced by themes of transition,
displacement and belonging, altered memories charged with personal experience of the complexity of present-day global reality. Painting becomes a playground for imagination, challenged by the socio-political and spiritual aspects of human existence. Through the jarring and synthesising of cultural and commodity identities, the present and the past often give way to a more nostalgic feel verging on the esoteric, not consciously following a particular narrative. The process of surface construction reveals the technique through the qualities of the material, leaving certain layers bare and building up the transparency and volume as well as detailed areas of clothing and headdresses.

For me, borrowing from historical languages becomes less about
appropriation and more about intuition, engendering an motional, critical and cognitive sensibility.


Veronica Smirnoff was born in Moscow in 1979. She attended Wimbledon School of Art London 1998-99, The Slade School
of Fine Art London 1999-2004, The Academy of Fine Arts Vienna 2001-02 (scholarship) and the Royal Academy of Arts London 2004-07. Her group shows include 'Passed as Present' York Art Gallery 2008, 'Invasion/Evasion' Baibakov Art Projects Moscow 2008, 'Gothic' (Contemporary Art Society exhibition and
auction) Sotheby's London 2009, ' Women to Watch' Christie's London 2009 and 'BRIC' auction Saatchi Gallery London
2010. Solo projects are 'Morozka' Galleria Riccardo Crespi Milan 2008 and 'Zhar' Galerie Stanislas Bourgain Paris 2010.