Yulia Bas (Lobanov) is an emerging Russian artist whose powerful portraits reflect transformation, evolution and the beauty of imperfection. In each painting, empty spaces become eloquent, as faces remain unfinished and details are obscured. Yulia's brush strokes and blanks pose questions on identity, change and self-doubt. Working in gesso, crushed paper, acrylics and oils, her brushwork is both lifelike and abstract, rude in its texture and vivid in its accuracy. Each detail carries her own anxieties as well as that of her subject; shadows suggesting traumas, tension and misconceptions, light indicating clarity, infinite possibilities, power and peace.
For Yulia, portraiture is a direct reflection of personality – she makes connections between background texture and subconscious settings. Detailed realism coexists with sketchy, bold brush strokes and unapologetic white spots of background. Yulia's portraits capture the subjects in a specific moment, aware that they will never be the same person as in that moment again. And she will never be the same artist. As we experience, and are influenced by, changes around us and inside us, our identity evolves and the shadows and light, both real and imagined, adjust too.
Born in Moscow in 1986, Yulia's eclectic artistic journey began at a very early age. From studying with a teacher dedicated to old school academicism as a child, she went on to complete a degree in interior design and architecture. Over the past decade she has established a successful yacht design studio with her partner, relocating to Barcelona and immersing herself in this unique leviathan realm. Every step and outlet has seen her become more fascinated with the human condition, appreciate the capacity and fragility of each of her mediums – paint and pencil, space and light – and learn more about herself. After a decade dedicated to yacht design, Yulia felt a longing to return to the canvas once again. In many ways an artist reborn, her work harnesses her feelings of vulnerability, her acute awareness of her shifting identity. As she undergoes a metamorphosis of self, so too do her subjects through her honest, incomplete rendering.
Q&A WITH THE ARTIST
HOW DID YOU DECIDE ON THIS DIRECTION FOR YOUR ART?
I was guided by my intuition. For me, it is very important to have the pleasure of the actual act of painting. Aesthetically, I really like destroyed paintings and feel a connection to them, but I found doing so to my work felt unnatural. Instead, I started to experiment with different ways of 'damaging' a traditional, realistic technique. This led me to leave my portraits incomplete, feeling 'ripped' and 'insecure'. I feel like this inconsistency and imperfection reflects my emotional state.
WHAT ARE YOUR MEDIUMS?
I cover my panels with thick strokes of gesso. Sometimes I add some scraps of primed paper; I may crumple them and put many layers on one place while leaving another area of the panel completely free. I like my canvases be really textured since I paint quite thin in an alla prima method. Priming plays really important role in my paintings. Its spontaneous randomness emerges from the portrait that I paint on top. I paint with oil and blend colours, leaving blank spots where I like my areas of gesso.
WHAT IS YOUR PROCESS?
Abstract and spontaneous priming and careful and intuitive painting. I build my work bit by bit, looking for the right moment to stop. I never know from the beginning how my work will turn out. I have no complete vision. I tend to keep my painting beautiful throughout every step of the process, allowing me to stop at any stage. My process is based on the joy of practice itself.
HOW DO YOU UNIQUELY PRESENT THE SUBJECT?
I may perfectly render a nose and leave the eye socket blank, paint a forehead yet avoid detailing a mouth. I choose areas I am drawn to; ones that reflect a specific emotion that I desire to convey from a model. All the rest may disappear. My portraits are incomplete but also whole. They are inconsistent, but unwavering in their honesty.
WHAT KEEPS YOU CURIOUS AND PASSIONATE?
Finding my way, searching for my voice, chasing my identity as an artist and finding situations I can solve with my art.
HOW MIGHT THE VIEWER APPROACH YOUR WORK?
I'd like my viewer to look at my work as if looking upon a puzzle in progress; that feeling of intrigue and anticipation for the unfinished work, for its story. My paintings will hopefully inspire a mixture of emotions in viewers – doubt, uncertainty, maybe even sadness but also inspiration, pleasure and hope.