Flowers Blooming in Winter

How does it come about that some people are so richly endoewd with beauty and talent? Who can answer this question?
Look at Olga's pictures, look at her face - may be you can?

In the dead of winter when it is freezing both outdoors and in your heart, when the summer and fall are just faded memories, and the spring is a long way coming you crave for warmth for body and soul.
The studio of Olga Volga (it’s not a misprint: the artist’s first name is Olga and her last name is Volga) does provide this warmth. To walk into it is just like walking into summer or early fall. Flowers are everywhere — wall flowers in pots on the walls, flower arrangements, made of dry flowers here and there, and flowers in the pictures, created by the artist. Flowers that will never wilt.

Olga’s talent for painting was noticed when she was just a little girl and she was actively encouraged to develop it. When she was five, one of her pictures that was shown at an exhibition of children’s drawings in Japan, was awarded a prize. Later, when her family moved to the town of Sukhumi (on the eastern Black Sea coast), she went on to study at an arts school where she made an impressive and fast progress in her art. In Sukhumi and in Kyiv she always had very good art teachers and they surely contributed a lot to her becoming an accomplished artist (Inna Maiboroda; academician Astashinsky; sculptor Yuri Baholika; Victor Zaretsky; Ihor Cholaria; Nugzar Mgaloblishvili). It is probably proper to quote here one of the apophthegms from the enormously rich legacy of philosophic wisdom that has come down to us from India: «When the student is ready, the teacher will not tarry in coming» So, she must have been ready to absorb what she was taught. Bounties of autumn. 72 x 82cm. Oil, canvas, 1996
In spite of such a solid artistic background, Olga, upon graduation from school, did not go straight into painting. Being a girl of uncommon beauty, she decided — and nobody could blame her for such a decision — to pursue the career of a clothes designer and of a mannequin.
Two vases with lilies. 90 x 80 cm. Oil, canvas. 1996. Fragrance of lilies. 90 x 60 cm. Oil, canvas. 1996.
In 1993 she was ranked among the top ten models in the countries of the former Soviet Union. She worked for the widely acclaimed Russian couturiers Yudashkin and Zaitsev, she went to France and Italy as a model to demonstrate clothes. For a time she even seemed to have forsaken painting for a different career but the art of painting «kept knocking at her door,» an she let it in.
Thanks to her remarkable talent, her art matured fast,it was noticed by the public and praised by the critics. In 1996 alone, Olga’s works were shown at five exhibitions (among works of 12 other Ukrainian artists) held in the United States: at Harvard University, Cambridge; at the Ukrainian Mission at the UN, New York; at the Ukrainian Institute of America, New York; at the Embassy of Ukraine, Washington, DC; at the Ukrainian Cultural Centre, Philadelphia. The exhibitions, organized by the Kyiv OR Gallery, showed Olga’s works to the best advantage and many of them were sold; among the buyers the Japanese were particularly noticeable, probably because Olga’s art evoked some spiritual similarities with the Japanese attitude towards nature.
Olga’s pictures Bounties of Autumn and Rosy Mood were shown first at the Lavra Gallery in Kyiv in the early months of 1996, then at the 1st International ArtFest Ukrainian Classical Avant-Garde and Modern Art and later taken to the United States to be shown there.

Chrysanthemums. 45 x 30 cm. Oil, canvas. 1995.

They attracted attention and Harvey M. Hament, a prominent businessman from New York and patron of the arts, bought them for his collection. Olga’s works came to the notice of Philip A. Bruno, the proprietor of the Marlborough Gallery, one of the most prestigious art showrooms in Manhattan, and he offered Olga to have some of her works shown at his gallery. Strange as it may seem but Olga was not too happy with her sudden commercial success. The thing is she did not want to part with her paintings because each of them is unique and cannot be copied even by Olga herself. She had started using a new technique of putting many layers of paint on the canvas not with the common painter’s brush but with a palette-knife (it is not she who invented this technique but she had developed it in her own way).
Rosy mood. 70 x 60 cm. Oil, canvas. 1996. Sunflowers. 100 x 90 cm. Oil, canvas. 1996.

The picture is created at the moment of inspiration, imbued with the mood of the moment of creation. Not long deliberations but the emotions are the governing factor. No wonder each picture, created in such a way, reflects the whole gamut of feeling, captured in the paint. One of Olga’s recent works is called Fragrance of Lilies, and anyone looking at it can hardly help actually smelling the odour of the flowers — so powerful is the image that it stimulates the olfactory nerves! Two Vases with Lilies evokes, for some reason, Mozart’s divine melodies, and the expressive canvas Sunflowers appears to be a pictorial hymn to the Sun-God.
When Olga’s pictures were hung in the hall for official receptions of the Ukrainian Embassy in Washington, DC, they appeared to have been painted specially for that room, recently renovated and decorated in the Baroque style.Yuri Shcherbak, the Ukrainian Ambassador to the USA, requested her to let the pictures hang in the hall permanently, saying that Ernst Neizvestny, the famous sculptor (a little pun here: neizvestny in Russian means «not known»), had given some of his works to the Russian Embassy — why not have the Ukrainian Embassy adorned with Olga’s excellent pictures? She politely and modestly declined, saying she was neizvestny yet, she was not a celebrated artist yet, whose works could be put on the walls of the Ukrainian Embassy to grace them and represent Ukrainian art. One of her pictures, though, she donated to the Ukrainian Mission at the UN Organization.
Recently, Olga has been invited to exhibit her new works at the Central Painters’ House in Moscow. She has taken this offer very seriously and has already created several pictures that she intends to show there.

Reported by Mykola SLAVUTYCH
Potos by Andriy CHIKANOVSKY

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