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Tatyana Palchuk: a Tryst with The Past

Prerna SM Jain

Tatyana Palchuk is a Latvian artist whose work is a surrealistic reinterpretation of the 14th century early Italian renaissance paintings. Her works imbibe the essence of the subject’s representation through technical proficiency, whilst enticing the viewer into its canvas web of a dream.

Born in Riga, Latvia, Palchuk earned her bachelor’s in fine arts in 1981 and went on to attain two Master’s degrees in Fine Arts, one from Latvian Academy of Arts and another from USSR Academy of Arts. Having had 18 solo exhibitions and numerous group ones, her works are in several collections across the globe. Prominent repositories include that of the Russian Art Union and Ministry of Culture of the Russian Federation. Her works are in the permanent exhibition of Stan Kaplan Private Gallery, REX Fine Arts, Florida. Her artistic productions are influenced by the early Italian Renaissance, the Northern Renaissance, and the French Illuminated Manuscripts on the 15th century.

Series Rainbow, Red, oil on linen, 2018 - 65x75 cm © Tatyana Palchuk

Her works are harmonized through vivid colour palettes that are concentrated amongst the various details in the otherwise muted hued work. The elements in the picture frame juxtapose between the living and the ‘still’ through mortal beings that proclaim their aliveness, and the dead objects that the artist’s brush has lent an identity to. The once breathing and growing life-forms have now been plucked and turned into “still life”, questioning the concept of existence- at what point can one define a form to become dead or an object. Do we define an apple as something that is a dead form, or something that is an object? Palcuka’s careful yet subtle compositions question this very concept.

Her paintings encapsulate the forms with a realistic precision that trace the old master’s brushstrokes. The influence of Proto- renaissance master’s such as – Duccio di Buoninsegna and Giotto di Bonpone are prominent. Palcuka’s earlier work’s share the same aesthetics to that of Duccio’s gold leafed egg tempera’s on wood panel. Her figures too, have a sense of three-dimensional roundness with a limited spatial depth as a background. Her recent creations are more focused on ‘still’ life representations that are in the continuity of the same practice. Yet, through their unconventional and uncanny compositions, one can infer that these works belong to the current times. “My compositions are always emphasized in details, balanced and without accident, everything has been created before in mind and spiritual process. I believe as result these paintings tune to thoughts, associations, kind of symbolism, but not too primitive or formal.” Says Palcuka.

Series Rainbow, Black,oil on linen, 2017 - 63x86 cm © Tatyana Palchuk

Using a magnifying glass may well be worth the effort for Palchuka’s work, as every inspection reveals something new. One might discover ants on a conch shell, for example, or grapes flying astray. Intricacies and subtle nuances lace the tables and commonhold objects, adding a spark to one’s imagination. It begs one to question one’s reality, and to heed closer attention to our daily environs, as there lies a microscopic world of its own that often goes unnoticed in every day’s mundanity.

The drapery in the midground, used in studios and ateliers as backdrops for representational works, accurately mimics its references. The detailed rendition and hypnotic patterns of the tablecloths draw us into the picture. We feel invited to partake the spread laid out on the table, only to discover that it is an uncustomary mixture of objects that we are allowed to feast upon. The table still seems to be in its preparatory stage.

Anthem of Joy, oil on linen, 2019 - 95x120 cm © Tatyana Palchuk

The use of chiaroscuro is evident in her work. This dramatic play between light and shadow further emphasize one’s difficulty to ascertain the tipping point that demarcates the dichotomy between alive and dead components of the work, as their tones and hues homogenize with one another to form a harmonious image. The greys in her work are anything but neutral as they activate the colours in the foreground. The contrast between the present and the past, hit notes of nostalgia in the increasingly contemporized world of art.

The textural complexity of every object has been executed meticulously. The glass of the teapots reflect with the same intensity as that of any ceramicware, the feathers of a bird have the same softness and unpredictable placement as that in nature. The amalgamation of the machine-made perfect objects and natural organic shapes with such articulation is a treat.

Viewing Palcuka’s works is a tryst with the past- It is a journey from the 14th century to the present date. So, be a part of the surrealistic feast that is Tayana Palcuka’s work, and explore the delights hidden in them!

Two Captains, oil on linen, 2020 - 55x65 cm © Tatyana Palchuk


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