Emotive Explorations

Yuliia Dzhurenko is a Ukrainian artist whose work is exhibited throughout Asia and Europe. Continuous learning forms the basis of expression in which self-portraits reflect a state of mind. Each piece reveals emotions and sentiments such as irony, loneliness and sensuality.

A: In Issue 117 of Aesthetica, we featured Summertime Sadness. Who are the subjects – are they real people, a composite of various people or are they purely from your imagination?
YD: Summertime Sadness is a signature artwork of my first art collection Fishes&Moon. It combines three dimensions in the lifetime of one single person in one moment in time: who she was, who she is and who she will be.

They coexist together, with a deep feeling of melancholy from being separated from the world around them. This painting is my self-portrait vision, within infinite definition of time.

A: What is the relevance of the work within the Fishes&Moon series?
YD: Fishes&Moon is divided into the Blue series and Red series. The Blue series gathers all work that reflects inner deep sentiments and one’s absurd imagination.

The Red Series is devoted to expressing one’s willingness to accept and emerge from boundaries and limitations of suppressing reality. Summertime Sadnesses has combined both concepts, showing a possible way to compromise.

A: What is the importance of self-portraits for you, and how do they reflect a state of mind?
Since I was a three-year old kid, all I have been drawing until present moment are portraits of people and my transmuted self-portraits. I believe it has become a visual language communication with myself and the outer world. My ideas and thoughts are being reflected through my characters, their interactions, joys and sorrows.

A: How are irony, loneliness and sensuality expressed through the pieces in the Fishes&Moon series?
The Fishes&Moon series was born at the beginning of world pandemic in 2020, when I used to have very mixed feelings about being separated with people around me, my usual hobbies and sentiments.

Those two years were filled with different gradients of emotions: from fear to irony, from sadness to acceptance. From the first to the last painting of this series – it is easy to see how these expressions have been changed and transformed.

A: What is the role of colour within the series – for example, between works such as Fears Out and Inverted Mind, and works such as A Moment Before Talk and A Thousand Songs of River’s Sadness?
YD: The whole series is divided to two sub-series: Blue and Red. Fears Out and Inverted Mind belong to the Blue series, which is focused on showing inner world sentiments and the absurd imagination that follows. This is the reason I have used more dark blue colours and blue hues, with deep black outlining.

A Moment Before Talk and A Thousand Songs of River’s Sadness belong to the Red series, which is more expressive, shaped and structured. They both are filled with warm red colours, intensive brushwork and an emotional dynamic. I use lots of red colour within all my paintings as it helps me to show my passion and give explicit answers about my own personality.

A: Perception Collection was created after the Fishes&Moon and Retrospectives series. Do you see Perception Collection as an evolution within your art practice, or as a different expression of your artistic output?
I believe the Perception art collection is a natural evolution of my artistic vision and it has more outer influences. I have devoted much time on studying art nouveau and symbolism, and it gave me more freedom of expression.

This collection is more feminine, sensual and reveals a connection between human beings and nature, understanding ourselves as part of the universe. I have always believed in absolute unity of everything existing and  hidden mysteries. I have used numerous symbols among all of works: background as an infinite universe, birds as liberty expression and golden patterns as infinite energy flow.

A: In what ways do you find the canvas as an ideal way in which to express your process of growth and self-awareness?
Honestly, there is no ideal way to express my ideas. I have been working on numerous medias and I feel that this process won’t ever end: from paper to canvas, from pencils to oil, from wall paintings to paper cuts, from 2D portraits to 3D sculpturing. No matter what media or tools I use, my intuition paves the way to my greatest expression.

A: How do you approach colour and perspective within your work?
Both colour and perspective are being intuitively generated, with perspective being worked a bit more. They are the results of my personality and life changes, rather than a deliberate approach.

A: Tell me about your journey from Ukraine to Asia.
I was born and raised in Ukraine, but somehow my inner connection with Asian cultures was always more serious. I found myself always looking for more than the life was giving me, to experience more than I was told to.

This natural curiosity and intuition have brought me to where I am now. As an artist, I have found inspiration in learning and seeing different cultures, people’s interactions and my response to them.

A: How has the use of materials and techniques influenced your work since relocating to Asia?
First of all, I started to work on big canvases and I let myself experiment on all possible medias I could find. With the number of paintings I’ve created, my artistic hunger of new ways of expression has just grown up.

A: The Retrospectives Collection combines Asian and western elements with complex personal emotions. What was the creative process like for you?
The Retrospectives collection or how I often call It Childhood Retrospectives is my favourite art addition so far. I started this series in 2023, after months of studio stagnation. It has become my world of naivety, love and peace.

The main concept is to remind ourselves how unlimited our imagination was when we were kids, and how absurd, bizarre, indifferent our world perception was. How normal things were supernatural, and how supernatural things became normal. Mind development has no time-space boundaries and as we grow up – these limitations are becoming absolute truth.

A: What about the element of absurdity?
Absurdity is lived within everything in our modern world, and as an artist I see its inevitable influence on our minds and souls. That’s why I do like to use unusual characters, forms and composition – let the mind work in different way.

A: You are also known as 朱朱 (Zhu Zhu) – what is the meaning of this name and how does it relate to your art practice?
ZhuZhu refers to my surname mostly, and in translation is means something of a vermillion colour, bright red and for me, passionate of what I do. This surname has combined my favourite colour and my artistic approach.

A: What projects and exhibitions do you have coming up throughout 2024?
I am aiming to have a very active and breakthrough year, since I had a few years of less social activities. In the present moment, I’m working on 3D printed sculptures from the Retrospectives art collection, and more exposure in the local market. As I always say, I have to keep on creating and moving forward – no matter what life has prepared.

All images courtesy of Yuliia Dzhurenko.

yuliia-dzhurenko.com  I  Instagram: @hollyarty

The work of Yuliia Dzhurenko appears in Issue 117 of Aesthetica. Click here to visit our online shop.