Valentina Loseva and the Saints of New York
Valentina Loseva is a Russian-American artist working in Brooklyn, New York. Themes of inner conflict, inherent duplicity and contradiction have inhabited her work for over a decade. Loseva uses portraiture as a means to both investigate and celebrate the perceived, imagined, and understood inner conflicts of her sitters. Through her own experience as immigrant, artist, and convert to Judaism, she senses this duality firsthand, and is encouraged to find and paint the strength and vulnerability of contradictory stories that synthesize a countenance.
Valentina Loseva is a Russian-American artist working in Brooklyn, New York. Born in St. Petersburg, Russia, Loseva's family moved to New York City when the artist was just three years old. Loseva grew up in the Russian enclave of Brighton Beach, Little Odessa by the Sea, where, following the Russian pedagogical tradition, she studied art and dance outside of school. Continuing to paint, she graduated with a Fine Art degree from Macaulay Honors College at Hunter in 2012.
Having the opportunity to study in Florence and in Paris heavily influenced Loseva’s art making. Witnessing firsthand the works of art that made up the trajectory of painting from the classical period to today, she developed a profound appreciation for the career of the artist as storyteller and truth teller who both critiques and celebrates the inner conflicts we experience collectively as inhabitants of a particular time and place, and as individual beings. Life, after all is complex and existence is complicated. It isn't uncommon to want and fear or love and dread the very same person, idea or course of action.
Following in the footsteps of large scale American action painting and maintaining the lyrical influence of frescoes of the early Italian Renaissance, Loseva was drawn to creating wall sized paintings, which she called mythscapes: part dreams, part fantasy, allowing the viewer to negotiate existence between what is actual and what can be imagined.
The boundary between real and imagined, abstract and representational, is a reflection of the synthesis between the life lived and the one contemplated. When we are thinking about our future selves by definition we are not living them. This inner conflict, this sense of dualism, is one that keeps recurring in Loseva's work. Loseva is particularly sensitive to this strife as an immigrant, an artist and a convert to Judaism.
Upon graduating, Loseva moved to Bushwick to continue painting mythscapes and teaching painting. As a teaching artist, Loseva traveled to public and private schools around New York City and worked with children of all ages and backgrounds. In 2014, she decided that she needed more training to pursue what she loved and returned to school for her Masters degree, this time studying art and pedagogy at Brooklyn College.
In 2015, Loseva began exploring the inner conflict through visual pattern and symbols. These drawings compose a series of humorous and often tongue in cheek look at navigating through the temptation, hypocrisy and fads of contemporary society through text, pattern and figure.
Distilling her large narrative work to portraiture allowed her to devote space to explore the personal inner conflict, which can take place across one’s face and body, in paint as in life.
Using this concept of fractured duality as a point of departure, Loseva created two more series: Bi-Portraits, which show sitters with extreme emotion across two faces, and a series of Biblical portraits, inspired by Biblical texts, exploring lives of characters such as Goliath and the Snake, who are traditionally read as negative characters with little backstory.
Continuing painting and drawing portraits Loseva is working to merge portraiture with mythscape, painting within varying levels of realism and abstraction, presenting a take on one’s inner life on the skin of the body and beyond.
Valentina Loseva has shown her work in the United States, France and the UK. In addition to painting portraits and mythscapes, Loseva teaches painting, drawing and digital media at a middle school in Queens.