Yulia Iosilzon - Exhibition Text
Originally published to accompany Yulia Iosilzon’s solo ‘Artist Room’ presentation at The Columbia Hotel, with Roman Road Gallery (London, 21st September - 21st December 2020)
21st September 2020

Yulia Iosilzon’s art practice hinges upon a singular approach to narrative that at once conforms to and subverts traditional notions of visual storytelling. Whilst the scenes depicted in her paintings are instantly identifiable to the viewer, featuring familiar figurative protagonists occupying semi-abstracted but still recognisable sites and settings, it is their place and purpose within a wider narrative that often alludes. This portrayal of representational yet indeterminate moments extracted from their surrounding story is evidence of both Iosilzon’s interested in the fluctuating nature of anecdotal histories and their place within a contemporary culture of ephemerality.

Many of her works reference narratives lifted from fables or fairytales that are proliferated by means of an oral historical tradition, retold across generations, everchanging as elements are embellished, misremembered, appended or forgotten. It is therefore often the fragments of narrative that remain, that carry the weight and intention of broader understandings since lost, and become imbued with potential and suggestion as those portrayals in Iosilzon’s paintings.

Similarly, Iolsilzon’s works echo our experience and engagement with published narrative intended for a social media society. Events and encounters are distilled to shareable snapshots and memorable moments, decontextualised and edited for quick consumption and even quicker consideration. However, just as the whispered snippets of age-old tales are enticing enough to demand further questioning and therefore continued circulation, so too Iosilzon’s paintings elicit prolonged pause and invite increased contemplation.

The works are embedded with imagery and iconography implicit to an extended field of vision, singular storyboards constricted by the canvas, indicators to a continuance concealed from the viewer. It is this allusion to an unattainable understanding that enamours Iosilzon’s paintings to their audience.

Iosilzon’s obscurantism is further encouraged through her selection of medium, comprehension of colour and employment of abstraction. The choice of translucent silk as her canvas serves as the physical manifestation of an ability to at once reveal and conceal, the material’s opacity hinting at the paintings' structural subsistence whilst simultaneously preserving their modesty. Complete clarity once again proves elusive, as a viewer is lured involuntarily by the prospect of intimacy only to be frustratingly found wanting.

Finally, Iosilzon’s implementation of approached abstraction only acts to give more agency to the figurative elements of her depictions, situating the latter within an ever-increasing diffusion of semblance. Boundaries are blurred as the audience struggles to discern the representational qualities of shapes, silhouettes and shadows in an attempt to reconcile them within their own interpretation of the imagery’s implied narrative. Furthermore, Iosilzon’s palette of vivid tones and vibrant colour combinations force the viewer to contend with their learned understanding of emotive alliances, evoking additional elucidations and once again heightening the alluring indiscernibility of the artist’s unique narrative-driven constructions.