In this post I am sharing my thoughts about my work. These are my artist statements, talks, and exhibition proposals that I have written over the past few years.
2022 (statement on my website)
For Olea Nova composing paintings and music are two parallel processes where articulation of space is one of the important aspects. She embraces dissonance and polyphony, focuses on vectors of movement and speed of sounds, that are tactile and spacious, through air and time. In her compositional processes she relies on a simple idea of arranging various materials within a larger compositional form that is changing over time. There is no narrative content in her work. By exploring her sense of non-objective form Olea Nova dematerializes objects and creates space that is non-referential.
Through form Olea Nova strives to give a sense of contemporaneity. Her work advances in the direction of increased scale, integration of stronger illusionistic effects and dynamism. She focuses on the human perception through the interaction of lines, sounds and color, while simultaneously keeping to the improvisational mode of working and leaving the content open for multiple cultural readings.
2020 (from zoom talk, Art Center Highland Park)
One of the thoughts in the background of my work is that often things are not what they seem to be, not because they are man-made illusions, but because human bodies can perceive only in a certain way. And what we can’t perceive with our senses can be measured by using contemporary technology. … For me, art and science go together because science describes the world we live in and an artist can rely on scientific discoveries to find ways to articulate their work.
My aim is to go towards understanding of something that I may only feel at the time, but that has no verbal equivalent or visible equivalent just yet. … I move towards understanding what it is I want to make perceptible. My thought initially is hidden from me. It becomes clearer as I make my work.
2019 (from 15 min talk, Evanston Art Center)
In the exhibition I have paintings, drawings and two objects.
Making work and then reflecting upon it are two very different things for me. The Most recent question that I was asked was “Why Air” and I will talk about that.
The first art form that I studied was music. I played piano for several years before I started seriously engaging with painting, so my first abstract studies relied on my sense of movement of sound in space.
The very first abstract works I made (now it is almost thirty years ago) were interpretations of such qualities as statics and dynamics by visual means. As I see it now, these first abstract drawings were the very beginnings of the paintings and drawings I make now.
The series of work on display I started in 2015. I spent several years making painting and drawing studies for this work, which included working out the painting process, decisions about color, form and brushwork. I made many paintings and drawings as studies of form.
The Paintings on display are the result of the direct painting process. I paint with oil on canvas either attached to the wall or on a floor. My painting process incorporates random procedures, situations of chance and uncertainty because I don’t have total control over the paint and image that emerges during my painting process. When painting I incorporate painting and drawing techniques and I discover my image-form during the painting process.
When I make paintings I think in terms of spatial qualities of movement in all directions and how that can be interpreted on a flat surface. Making large-scale painting also allows for wide-ranging hand and body gestures to be incorporated into the process.
Drawings are a very important part of my process since a lot of questions that I ask myself I work out in these drawings. In that sense they are studies for future work. And in my paintings I often draw with paint.
I did reinterpret my drawing into two 3d models that are on display. Originally I wanted to make completely transparent objects, and just like my other work, the models were developing in the process of making, details were added and subtracted and I added light in the final stage. Light brought a new dimension to the work. As light reflects from transparent planes it appears as if hovering in the middle of the models.
I think of these models again as articulations of space and I wonder if they can be built to be a real-life environment, a garden, a plaza for events, or to become a different kind space for creative endeavors.
I think of my non-objective non-referential space as moving and expanding. It oscillates between 2d and 3d. Basically, it is our space – in all directions, as well as in time that it takes to see all these relationships.
First, when engaging with movement in painting I was pondering what is moving in a non-objective painting that is focusing on spatial relationships and I realized that it is the space itself that is moving. After all visually empty space is not actually empty. I am interested in science and like to learn about invisible but perceptible matter in the universe – light and sound being that kind of matter.
Air is moving within space that moves and expands, it is transparent and as if weightless. Visually empty space is filled with wind, photons, sound waves, voice and speech. Feeling of lightness and transparency of air, intricacy of lines and coalescence of weightless forms influences my formal inquiries. I want to dematerialize form and to do that I work with fluidity and transparency, effects of light and contrasts, asymmetry and dynamism of paint masses, and I strive to eliminate hard-edged forms.
I think of air from many different perspectives, not only that it is transparent and is necessary for life, but I am interested in the invisible to the human eye phenomena, as well as air as a source of radiation, chemical warfare and of course wireless communication.
On May 19 I will be playing several synthesizers including a Theremin. The Theremin was invented almost 100 years ago – in 1920 by Leon Theremin, but is still not a widely known musical instrument. It is electronic and is played without physical contact by both hands hovering in the air between two antennas. It is an abstract instrument to play as it responds without tactile feedback for the artist. Sounds range from likeness of synthetic noise to the human voice. I hope to see you at the performance to hear the sounds of electronic instruments including the Theremin.
2018 (from an exhibition proposal)
The exhibition titled “Air” will include recent large non-objective oil paintings on canvas stretched gallery style.
Through the improvisational process Olea Nova explores her sense of non-objective form. Beauty, harmony and improvisation are of concern in Olea Nova’s work. When looking at a painting Olea Nova’s intent is to facilitate experience through form, suggesting that a form can have symbolic and social meaning. Through interacting with culture Olea Nova’s formal inquiries consider meanings that are philosophical, psychological, cultural and socio-political. Olea’s intent is for each work to have its own actuality, and focus is on the human perception through the interaction of lines, sounds and color, while simultaneously keeping to the improvisational mode of working and leaving the content open for multiple cultural readings.
Olea Nova is a visual artist and composer working in Chicago. Her body of work encompasses painting, drawing, printmaking, video and sound. These additional practices involve work with available technology and help the artist to articulate space, temporal relationships, speed and movement in different ways. Olea Nova takes something from each mode of working and brings it into her non-objective paintings. She embraces the idea that different ways of art making can be looked at as languages articulating the same phenomena but by different means.
2018 (from an exhibition proposal)
Through her direct composing process Olea Nova plays with the nature of representation and perception. Olea Nova’s intent is to facilitate experience through form, suggesting that a form can have symbolic and social meaning. Giving her viewers the freedom to interpret what they see and hear, Olea Nova invites them to be co-creators of meanings. Through her interaction with culture, Olea Nova’s formal inquiries consider and suggest meanings that are philosophical, psychological, cultural and socio-political.
Starting her work with guidelines and specifications for the final work, Olea Nova works with random processes that don’t allow precise control. Her process unfolds in time with focus on perceptual possibilities of her chosen medium created by color, motion, incidents and deliberate gestures, as they interact between each other through blending and layering. The resulting question of her process is – how to live in a situation of uncertainty and how to face the unknown and get ready for it.
Olea Nova is a visual artist and composer. In her practice she engages with diverse artistic strategies, mediums and techniques – oil painting on canvas, drawing, video and sound. To maintain a constant tension within these approaches Olea Nova combines and mixes strategies and techniques from different art forms.
Through her direct composing process Olea Nova explores her sense of non-objective form. Playing with the nature of representation and perception, Olea Nova puts emphasis on material and its physicality. Her painting process unfolds in time with focus on perceptual possibilities of paint on canvas created by color, motion, incidents and deliberate gestures, as they interact between each other through blending, erasure and layering.
Starting her work with guidelines and specifications for the final work, Olea Nova works with random processes that don’t allow precise control over the image. The resulting question is – how to live in a situation of uncertainty and how to face the unknown and get ready for it.
Beauty, harmony and improvisation are of concern in Olea Nova’s work. In her painting process Olea Nova merges painting and drawing techniques with improvisational decision making and creates paintings that are built up through layers of translucent paint in which conveyed space is expanding and fluctuating between the two and three-dimensional.
Through the improvisational process Olea Nova explores her own sense of non-objective form. She sees artwork as a man-made performative socio-cultural object thought and made by the artist, and form as a vessel for implied or derived meaning. Her large image-forms are composed of smaller forms and all these forms coalesce in metamorphosis.
Speech is a metaphor through which Olea Nova refers to her paintings. By applying learned skills and concepts in real time, speech, using words, connects meanings, feelings and thoughts making them available for understanding to another person. Olea Nova sees her improvisational painting process as a similar fast response to the preceding stimulus. Then improvisational painting becomes speech.
When looking at a painting Olea Nova’s intent is to facilitate experience through form, suggesting that a form can have symbolic and social meaning by embedding such concepts as freedom and democracy within a free and spontaneous painting process. Through interacting with culture Olea Nova’s formal inquiries consider meanings that are philosophical, psychological, cultural and socio-political.
I explore my own sense of non-objective form. Artwork for me is a man-made self-referential performative artificial social object thought of and made by the artist. My intent is for each work to have its own painterly reality and I invite spectators to visually travel across the surface of my paintings. Through interaction of lines and color I focus on the integration of illusionistic effects while simultaneously keeping to the improvisational mode of working and leaving the content open for multiple cultural readings.
Growing up in St. Petersburg, Russia, my first introduction to art was through renaissance paintings, baroque architecture, and Russian folk art. My cultural heritage and first encounters with art at the Hermitage museum largely influenced my painting’s content and formal inquiries. However, with time my artwork developed from colorful figurative compositions with forays into popular culture into the abstract works I am making today.
Beauty, harmony and improvisation are of concern in my current work. Merging painting and drawing techniques with improvisational decision-making I create paintings that are built up through free-flowing layers of translucent paint and intricate mark making. My paintings often combine grid structures with landscape and figuration into dynamic environments in which conveyed space is expanding and fluctuating between the two and three-dimensional.
I engage in a dialog with the history of abstract art from first formalist theories to formalism of color-field painting. I am interested in the interplay between the individual components of my paintings and the overall structure as well as the creation of the complex network of ordering the visual information. As a result of such interplay, different distances from the work allow one to see different aspects of it.
Through my painting process I create visual tension between serendipity and control, perfection and imperfection, accidents and deliberation. By joining fragments of social and folk narratives into dense visual networks I suggest a multiplicity of reading and invite spectators to participate in creating their own stories as they visually travel across the surface of my paintings.
My works do not have descriptive titles, I divide my paintings into classes and number each painting sequentially. Currently I see my paintings advancing in the direction of increased scale, integration of stronger illusionistic effects and dynamism, while at the same time keeping to the improvisational mode of working and leaving the content open for multiple cultural readings.
Public spaces, represented in my works, are places where people have to go before they can get to where they really want to be. These are commercial, industrial and warehouse spaces. I represent the space as a conceptual (computerized) diagram reminding one of a digital space. I chose this mode because it seems to be a relevant form of representation in our computerized reality.
I see the diagram as the actual space. I think it creates a view of the real space that might not have been anticipated. I represent the spaces diagrammatically showing us how abstract our reality is.
My work originated with my interest in the life of a city and noticing how people’s movement through a city is controlled. I began by depicting organized urban public spaces such as parking lots and shopping plazas. With time, my work evolved to include representations of urban environments from which the public is kept out.
My work relies on memory. When I depict public spaces I represent them as I remember them from driving in my car or from navigating through the aisles of the warehouse shopping spaces. When I depict industrial urban environments, from which people are kept out, I use snapshots I have taken while exploring the city as a starting point for these paintings.
The way I depict space is either from above or from ground level looking straight into the space. The point of view is dictated by the space itself and my experience of it. I see those places as digital representations and paint them as such.
To create my work I use paper, canvas, acrylic paint, spray paint, and graphite.
When I draw or paint close to the artwork’s surface my inclination is to emphasize details. To counter this impulse I often introduce mechanical means, I spray or roll substances onto the surfaces. Such work, made at a distance from a surface, also mimics how urban environments are now made. First, the pattern is drawn on computer, then the plan is printed and finally the work is executed by mechanical means, removed from immediate human contact.
The quest to represent reality on a flat surface has always attracted me. I am interested in art as an area of human experience. I see my work coming from an impulse, which makes me want to write on a stone or a wall the words ‘I was here’.
I see myself working towards creating more spontaneous pieces. As I work, I often experiment with materials and I constantly think how the work will look if I apply paint in a certain way, or use certain materials, or tools. I will continue in a spirit of experimentation because it produces unexpected results.
My personal preference is and always has been painting. I have also made screen-prints, short videos, stop motion and computer animation which have facilitated new approaches for visual representation in my painting. From these artistic practices, some of the elements that I consider while painting are working with layers, stencils, different visual angles and even time duration.