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Yelena Lezhen

Abstract symbolist artist


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Yelena Lezhen was born in Kiev, Ukraine where she graduated Kiev College of Art and Design. As a refugee from the Soviet Union, Yelena immigrated to the US in 1989 and settled down in New York City. Vibrant city life and nature's surroundings are a constant source of inspiration. Yelena Lezhen has participated in numerous art exhibitions in the US and Europe, and won a number of juried selection art competitions and awards. Her paintings and drawings can be found in private collections around the world, including United States, Germany, France, Spain, Sweden, Israel, Russia, and Ukraine.

In my work, I try to capture what is arising in my mind: thoughts, memories, dreams, the beauty and ugliness, high and low motivations, dirty politics and wonderful tales and dreams. These are stories that sometimes slowly or sometimes fast unfold on my canvases. To understand what I mean, a passing glance is usually not enough. One needs to stop for a while, to observe closely, and to get out of the closed room of one’s perception, and try to open the door leading to understanding what I try to convey. You may like it or not - my peculiar art world, which makes familiar strange, makes the past the future, and makes the viewer witness love, dreams, childhood fantasies as well as subconscious phobias, and social threats.

Many of my artworks are made with mixed media technique harmoniously blending an ink drawing into acrylic colors. I frequently resort to using of gold and silver tones. Gold and silver emphasize the artwork's precious nature and enrich it with a refined connotation. I started developing this technique by making ink sketches on sea beach pebbles. I saw images hidden in a stone texture and just emphasized what the nature created with light ink lines. Eventually, I started applying this technique using my abstract acrylic painting and finishing it with ink drawings. This sometimes almost random arrangement of abstract acrylic blots on paper helps me to bring up images from my imagination similar to seeing images in stones. The similar technique (blot drawing) was used by Max Ernst and by some other surrealists. 

My symbolism bears an emotionality required to express, soberly and directly, a specific emotive atmosphere. Often, I employ the mythical narration and strong fantastical characterization to achieve this emotionality. In the work entitled “A dream”, the composition is exalted through a mythically depicted oneiric setting. This atmosphere is enriched by narrative lightness in “Leda and the Swan “, which deals with the Greek myth, revisited through a novel interpretation and a soft touch.

I paint my emotions and feelings, so most of my art is very personal, but, at the same time, I have a strong, uncompromised position on several important social problems, and do not hesitate to express it on canvas. My three works were selected for the Gaïa Exhibition dedicated to the United Nations Climate Change Conference (Paris, December 2015). I participated in the “Stand with Ukraine” art exhibition presenting a serious of art works where I expressed my support to a struggle of Ukrainian people for their independence from Russia (Manhattan, Spring of 2015).  I created a serious of work “People of Paris” expressing my reaction to November, 2015 terrorist attack in Paris.

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