A rising star in the art world is British painter, Flora Yukhnovich. In 2021, her painting, I’ll Have What She’s Having, sold at auction for £2.3 million ($2.9 million). She’s 33. Currently on view in a two-person show with Daniel Crews-Chubb at the Ashmolean Museum in Oxford, England, Yukhnovich has six new large-scale paintings, created for the contemporary exhibition series, ‘Ashmolean NOW,” which was launched in the summer of 2023 and invites artists to create work inspired by the historical collections at the Ashmolean. The paintings are, in a word, gorgeous.
It’s exciting to see a young artist luxuriating in the paint. You can feel her love of oil paint by the way she applies the material thick and diluted contrasting light and dark, layering paint with loose and controlled brushstrokes. And the colors! Plump pink and rose, purple and turquoise, creamy white and black—the colors stream across the canvas like a song. These are luminous paintings, and deserving of praise.
But all is not what it seems. Behind each painting is subtext that is curiously contradictory to what you see in front of you. All those blooms of pink, sweeps of luscious color floating and colliding before you, are conveying a dark motive. Take for instance, She Herself is a Haunted House, 2023. The painting is over nine feet wide, brimming with lush reds, rose, pinks, and dark recesses in black. While she was painting the picture, Yukhnovich was thinking about the idea of being inside a flower. In the exhibition catalogue, she said, ‘I wanted the painting to be like a red cavernous room, a monstrous womb-type place, where dark things happen.”