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Alena Shymchonak - Nostalgic Textures

Words:

Edd Norval
June 27, 2022

Estonian artist Alena Shymchonak utilises a palette knife to develop deep textural landscapes that are evocative of nostalgic locations - from snow-capped mountains to the warm sands of a European beach. Her kinetic paintings are mapped out sensorial planes, where life and land exist simultaneously.

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One thing that is initially the most striking about her work is, of course, the texture. By painting nature in this way, the audience is able to get lost in the chaotic whisps of oil paint, whose immersive and expressionistic strokes coalesce in creating a holistic vision of the world, with her art sitting centre stage in a Venn diagram of nature, moment and people.


These three main attributes operate in unison, allowing the Tallinn-based artist to take us by the hand and back to a time that we all fondly remember. Her roughly hewn preference, detailed, but not too much, leaves each work as a vague enough scene to allow the audience to project thoughts and feelings onto.

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In enveloping waves and seductive snow, her characters feel alive, submerged in the world around them, completely oblivious to their role as protagonist in her art. An impressionist at heart, Shymchonak has an uncanny knack of making her paintings feel enchanting, bringing to mind ‘good times’, joyous moments that your memory chooses to keep on hand.


The thing is, these aren’t your memories, but they feel like it. Shymchonak’s paintings are a sort of composite, with recognisable scenes accumulated from her travels around the world, not only of sights actually seen, but textures and sensations she recalls that, through her unique painting method, she is able to recreate on a canvas.


Environments and particular temporal passages elicit their own unique frequencies, an energy that is both unique to every individual, whilst being palpable to all in attendance. In rare times, we can sit back and appreciate that a particular moment will be one you never forget, that you’re living in the ‘good old days’ right now. That’s what Shymchonak tries to paint. Somehow, she manages that.

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Teetering on the precarious line of wonder, illusion and reality, her painting’s hazy edges catapult her audience into a dreamy world. It’s a world with a soundtrack and a cast already, a conversation opened by the artist with whoever engages with her work. Such ephemeral moments in our lives often dissipate, sadly, without us appreciating their significance. The Estonian artist is on a mission to paint snapshots of those, to capture moments otherwise resigned to personal memory.


Skiing trips with friends, beach holidays with your whole family. It’s all there with the smell of sizzling onions and candy-floss, flirting through the salty sea air. We are back in those moments we hold so dear, if only short-lived, thanks to an artist that we don’t even know.

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