In a sequence of self-portraits, shot throughout the pandemic, Russian-born Kristina Varaksina (b. 1981) sits against stark white backdrops, shrouded by materials – with subtle variations suggestive of time passing. In one image, plastic packaging obscures the artist’s face. In another, painted words sit sharply on the skin, manifestations of doubt. The series is claustrophobic – a 21st century take on classical painting – with Varaksina holding the viewer’s gaze unquestionably and unrelentingly. These works are an extension of the photographer’s guiding principle: to explore “the vulnerabilities, insecurities and self-searching of a woman and artist.” She places a strong focus on emotion – a desire to reflect inner worlds and empathic psychologies. It’s an approach which, in 2020, led her to be recognised by several major competitions: Portrait of Britain, LensCulture Portrait Awards and British Journal of Photography’s Portrait of Humanity. kristinavaraksina.com.
1. Kristina Varaksina, Self-Portrait #7 (2020). Courtesy of the artist.
2. Kristina Varaksina, Self Talk (2020). Courtesy of the artist.
3. Kristina Varaksina, What Body Can Tell #1 (2020). Courtesy of the artist.
4. Kristina Varaksina, Self-Portrait. Queen (2021). Courtesy of the artist.
5. Kristina Varaksina, Self-Portrait #2 (2019). Courtesy of the artist.
6. Kristina Varaksina, Self-Portrait. Bubble Wrap (2020). Courtesy of the artist.