Ukrainian-born artist Valentina Diomina composes intimate scenes of life on the undulating, outer edges. With painterly precision, she imbues her abstracted subjects with a poetic interplay of vulnerability and resilience. Though still exploring her stylistic niche, she primarily utilizes oil and acrylic to sketch a poignant reflection on everyday encounters.
“I like to look at people in everyday situations, seeing how they talk to each other, what they do—their decisions and behavior.”
Education via emulation
As a young art student, Valentina aspired to grasp as much technical refinement as she could through education. Her first and most enduring inspiration came from an early art teacher who instilled in her a diligent work ethic. He taught her that creating art is not just about raw talent, but involves a broader practice dedicated to personal and professional growth. Pursuant to those ends, Valentina traversed an intensive academic path. She specialized in restoration for both a bachelors and masters degree at the Kharkiv State Academy of Design and Arts. The illustrious legacy of painting appealed to her desire to work within a longstanding tradition; to develop the skills necessary to sustain an evolving creative practice.
images by PILOTENKUECHE or supplied by artist
To further hone her craft as a painter, Valentina initially worked as a professional restorer of paintings. Both time-consuming and physically demanding, restoration provided her a unique opportunity to cultivate a discerning eye for detail. The discipline also obliged her to forgo her own artistic lens for that of other artists. By meticulously adapting to the specific style of each artwork, Valentina could sample a wide range of approaches from which to emulate. This fidelity to artistic intent emboldened a profound appreciation for material culture and the accompanied idiosyncrasies of individual expression. At the same time, however, she sought to take control of the visual narrative; to reflect her own circumstances and perspective. Opting to prioritize her own artistic expression, Valentina reminisces, “I wanted to try to be an artist. And maybe I needed to push myself to only work as an artist, to try to trust myself.”
Transcending direct representation
Adept at realistic renderings of still-life, Valentina endeavors to use such skills to create evocative visions of daily life. Though her visual style remains indebted to realism, her recent works have veered towards a more minimalist direction. She incorporates vibrant colors and expressionistic brushstrokes to emphasize elements of mood and composition, often leaving out the finer details to better highlight a central subject. Experimenting with new techniques and formats, she hopes to express personal preoccupations with greater allegorical transcendence. As Valentina attests, “I’m trying to say that we are all life—people, animals, nature. We have things in common, we are all from this world, and we also have some connection with each other.”
In particular, the redolent image of childhood remains a consistent theme of recent works. Interested in showing how early relationships can reverberate throughout one’s life, Valentina portrays a variety of formative dynamics involving children, friends, family, and even enemies. The senseless barbarism of war in Ukraine has also forced her to confront the pervasive sense of human fragility. In her painting Closed eyes (2022), Valentina expressively depicts a young boy cradled by his father. They are hiding in the basement, a makeshift bomb-shelter. Here, the juxtaposition of impending material devastation with the comfort of a protective embrace suggests the complexity of life during wartime.
Now a resident at PILOTENKUECHE, Valentina is regularly exposed to different forms of art and galvanized to try new things. This experience has broadened her understanding of what art can be, and encouraged her to be open to new experiences and possibilities in her own work. As a result, her art is constantly evolving and growing, reflecting her ongoing journey as an artist.
written by Antonia Glaser
Keep up with the latest from Valentina through her instagram.
PK & Friends / Open Studio / BYOBuffet
Fri 4 Nov
talk by curators, Claudia Caletti and Mary Osaretin Omoregie
Sat 17 Dec 7-10PM