Opening Reception: Wednesday, July 10, 6-9pm
Exhibition Dates: July 4 - July 26, 2019
7 Franklin Place
New York, NY 10013
NYA Gallery and Gallery 104 are pleased to announce a solo exhibition of new work by Olga Feshina. Curated by Shane Townley, the show will feature a total of thirteen paintings, many of which have not been previously exhibited. These works explore core motifs related to the artist’s ongoing “New Tech Girls” series, namely beauty, image construction and distortion, identity, self-fashioning, and presentation. With these new paintings of scantily clad young girls posing with handheld devices, Feshina calls the viewer’s attention to the contrast between contemporary and historic portraiture poses. She highlights how restrictive codes of behavior change, migrate, and ultimately manifest themselves in visual culture.
“New Tech Girls” Series
Feshina began the “New Tech Girls” series in 2016 and has continued elaborating on this body of work over the past few years. She is fascinated with how technological progress has had an adverse impact on the psychological development of women today. Specifically, she offers a compelling critique of how the paradigms of contemporary feminine beauty are created, distributed, and absorbed across digital devices and platforms. Using a soft, muted palette and matte texture, she situates her flat figures within shallow pictorial spaces. Her work repeatedly calls attention to the idea of surface, which is apt since her imagery is focused on the complicated dichotomy between reality and the virtual world. Across canvases like Girls Taking Selfie on the Beach (2016) and Girls Taking Selfie in the Fitting Room (2016), Feshina arranges highly idealized young girls in emulative poses that mirror ones they’ve seen via social media. Their actions in turn perpetuate trending postures in a never-ending cycle of vapid mimicry. The artist mines numerous media outlets in order to become familiar with the most common gestures, poses, and stances in circulation. What is more, her characters are often in synchronized postures in the compositions, underscoring the loss of individual expression and identity due to the nearly ubiquitous forces of conformity that operate underneath the surface of every constructed image on social media. Interestingly, in Girls Taking Selfie on the Beach, one of the figures holds a selfie stick, framing the overall painting as the screen of an iPhone. In other works, such as Girls with Friends Walking in Park (2019) and Girls Watching the Same Movie on the Beach (2017), the slim, youthful figures are together physically, but removed or distanced psychologically because they’re engaged in entirely different realms virtually.
Olga Feshina, Girls Taking Selfie in the Fitting Room, 2016. Acrylic on canvas, 48 x 36 inches (121.92 x 91.5 cm).
The artist has described her female figures as twenty-first century versions of the nymphs of antiquity. In Greek mythology, nymphs presided over certain natural locales, such as mountains, forests, lakes, rivers, and oceans. Feshina’s technologically obsessed nymphs similarly inhabit outdoor environs, but are often completely disconnected from these physical surroundings, inhabiting a digital forest so to speak, one populated with computer-coded creatures. The artist’s insertion of a doe in many of these works further expands this idea of a digital forest or enchanted grove. As Feshina has explained, animals figure rather prominently in fairy tales— folkloric or literary forms that have a lasting impact on children’s conception of self and others. Within her series, she understands the doe as representing each figure’s inner child: innocent, naive, impressionable, and needing protection. In the diptych Girls Exploring Their Feminine Nature (2017) and Inner Child Watching VR (2018), the doe is seen as being corrupted by early exposure to technology. Overall, these paintings can be read as a social commentary on how technology has facilitated the rapid construction and dissemination of implied codes of behavior about how girls should look and act.
Olga Feshina, Girls Taking Selfie on the Beach, 2016. Acrylic on canvas, 48 x 36 inches (121.92 x 91.5 cm).
The exhibition will open to the public on Thursday, July 4th with a reception taking place the following week on Wednesday, July 10th from 6-9pm. The show will remain on view through Friday, July 26th. Visitors may see works during regular gallery hours: Monday through Sunday, 12-5pm. For more information, please call (917) 472-9015 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Olga Feshina grew up in Kazakhstan, where she trained as a fashion and costume designer. She attended Karaganda Art School and focused on painting and photography. Later, she studied contemporary costume design at Kazakh National Academy of Arts. Among her many design accolades, she created the world’s first sporting uniform for chess—a commission from the International Chess Federation (FIDE). Her training as a designer has heavily influenced her painting style, which includes formal elements of cartoons and digital illustrations. In 2013, the interdisciplinary creative practitioner moved to New York.
Feshina has been featured in a number of notable publications, such as W Magazine, Esquire, FAD Magazine, Women Love Tech, Wallpaper, ELLE, and L'Officiel. She has had solo exhibitions at Gallery Tvorchestvo (Moscow); the Shchusev Museum of Architecture (Moscow); Paris sur Mode (Paris); and Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week Russia. Most recently, she exhibited works from “New Tech Girls” at Google’s offices in New York and at a booth for NYAFAIR in Tribeca.