Alena Krutogolova:
Spirit Animals

February 25 - April 2, 2023

Ukrainian artist Alena Krutogolova creates her own artistic language based on simplified forms, deliberate decorativeness, and an ironic worldview.

In her work, she synthesizes the traditions of Ukrainian folk art and elements of naive art with a modern artistic eye, expanding the boundaries of her personal creative space, and populating it with cute and colorful characters - pet hedgehogs, dreamy floral cats, wandering sea cows, harvest hens, and spotted owls.ย 

She welcomes us to her happy island to escape the difficulties, stresses, and troubles that populate our modern life. In our day to day, we desperately need that simplicity, joy, and a bit of kind and harmless silliness, which adds new colors and opens a fresh perspective.

The colorful heroes of her paintings declare their position to the viewer: it is difficult to blame the universe for its imperfection when a pretzel, a cup of tea, or a bouquet of daisies are all balancing on your head at that very moment.

Life is joy (every time we inhale, and especially every time we exhale)!

And thatโ€™s why we need to live every moment carefully and attentively, just like children when they eat cake, with reverence and while slightly protecting the plate with their hand, because... you never know :)ย 

Alena's interview with Bay Area Reporter:

1) How do you feel about your artwork being used for a fundraiser to aid Ukrainians during the war?

I strongly support the idea of โ€‹โ€‹raising funds to help Ukraine. If I manage to raise any amount for these purposes, I will consider it my main creative achievement of the year. Because I am absolutely inside this war and completely immersed in it: I hear the air raid sirens, the sounds of downed cruise missiles and drones, and in my neighborhood there are hits on residential buildings and infrastructure. It is difficult to find words to precisely convey what it is like to live in a country that has been trying with all its might for a year now to defend its right to national identity, to freedom, to the future ... It's difficult, it's very difficult! But Ukraine is holding on, and we are very grateful for the support of the American people and the entire civilized world.

2) Being based in Kyiv, how has the conflict affected your work?

This is a full-scale war, and not a local conflict, unfortunately ... Ukraine has a 1,500-km long front, daily shelling and bombing, daily deaths of soldiers, civilians, children, and the elderly, the destruction of houses, schools, hospitals, theaters, museums, power plants , railway stations .... It is impossible to get used to such things, it is impossible to forgive, and it is impossible to live and work in this as before โ€ฆ. This war changed everything in my life: At first I couldnโ€™t work at all, and later I was ready to draw bullets โ€“ just to help the army somehow. Over time, I came to understand that I can continue to do my job โ€“ and bring victory closer with monetary donations to military and volunteer organizations. This is how all conscious Ukrainians live now.

3) What message as an artist do you want your work to convey, particularly to an international audience?

I always thought that I have cute, cheerful, decorative works that should bring joy, harmony, and positivity to people's homes. But now they have a dual task: They are raising money for the Ukrainian victory, and perhaps they will save someone's life, even one life โ€“ it would be enough!