Olga Bakhtina is a Brisbane-based artist working in oil and charcoal. Russian by origin, Olga left Russia 22 years ago and since then lived in the UK, the Philippines, the Sultanate of Oman, and since 2013 in Australia.
The experience of living in different parts of the world and indulging in various cultures is reflected in her art. One can recognise the geometrical spatial organisation of the Byzantine icons, the love for pattern of the Middle East, the passion for intense colours from her years in South-East Asia. Olga’s artistic language is characterised by a strong brushstroke and vivid colours, as well as geometrical harmony.
Olga started painting while living in Oman and studied in Brisbane with David Paulsen (winner of Archibald Prize in 2004), though she considers herself mostly self-taught. Olga agrees with Picasso that one can’t learn to paint, one can only open oneself to painting. However, you can learn all you need to know about the colour from Matisse, the treatment of anatomy according to artistic needs from El Greco, the miracle work of geometry of Piero della Francesca, the freedom of brush from Velasques and Goya and so on. And then you can weave all this melodies into your own personal voice. Olga is currently studying History of Art at the University of Queensland.
Since her first solo exhibition in 2012 in Oman, Olga has been exhibiting regularly in Brisbane and across Australia and was a finalist in multiple Australian art awards. She was the winner of COSSAG’s Art Awards in 2016 and 2018, and the winner of the Royal Queensland Art Society Award in ‘Naked Truth’ exhibition in 2019.
Her work has been featured in several publications. Among the latest are the catalogue for the exhibition ‘The Double: Identity and Difference in Art since 1900’ in the National Gallery of Art, Washington D.C. in the USA; the Humanities subject book for high school students by Cengage Learning Australia. An in-depth article on her Christianity inspired paintings and Olga’s journey as an artist was recently published by the National Liturgical Architecture and Art Council (https://art.catholic.org.au/2021/12/23/gospel-themes-in-paint/#more-1188).
Many of Olga’s works are in the collections of the Archdiocese of Brisbane, the Australian Catholic University and private collections around the world.
For more information and to see Olga’s art visit www.olgabakhtina.com
Olga’s Exhibition with LEDA.
I once read that a writer could be a teacher, a destroyer or a magician. I believe that a painter has only one choice – to be a magician.
My new series ‘Inner Garden, Secret Garden’ is a collection of paintings in which every work is a story being told. It’s an attempt to create a dreamy new world of harmony, a civilisation of peace and serenity, where dreams come true, and worries do not exist.
The series depicts figures in landscapes that become the perfect artistic playground for exploring geometry and colour relationships whilst still creating adventure and harmony.
The paintings portray Nature as a caring presence, a living part of this world – tender, intimate, sumptuous, and magical. Pomegranates, zebras, horses, dogs, birds, and people are all parts of a big design, summoning up a dense and haunting beauty.
However, above all, the series is about humanity, about being human and what truly matters: love, romance, keeping childhood dreams, believing in miracles, the love of adventure, and finding harmony. It is an optimist’s visual feast in which I honour human spirit, strength, and courage.
The nudes in the paintings are not about erotism of any kind – quite the opposite. They are about innocence and purity, about the natural childlike uncomplicated approach to complicated grown-up matters like life, love, friendship, following dreams. Nudity is depicted here as the most natural and most honest – and yet most vulnerable state of being human. Maybe, this is the reason there has been so much nudity in religious paintings through the ages. It symbolised the connection of humankind to the Garden of Eden, and the relationship with our Creator when it was still in its purest form.
Artistically, the series is about finding harmony through the balance of colours and geometrical shapes. It is also about finding a stylised metaphorical language, a kind of a child’s simplified way of telling a story. Through the classical approach with a contemporary twist, the series was an ambitious attempt to give the images the air of a parable, as well as grace and grandeur of Renaissance frescoes.
The paintings are open for interpretation, but at the same time rich in symbolism as hints. ‘In Adam and Eve in Pomegranate Garden’, and other works, zebras with their white and black stripes symbolise life whilst the pomegranate is a symbol of fertility and power.
‘The Offering’ is a celebration of love and joy of living. Adam and Eve are offering a pear, a traditional symbol of affection and love, to the peacock which is a symbol of protection, good luck, and immortality.
‘In search of Golden Sphinx’ and ‘The Discovery of the Golden Sphinx’ are my love songs for dream chasers – those of us with the courage to follow their heart and their beliefs, striving to succeed in the path they take.
The message of this collection of works is clear: ‘Live, love, dream! Keep your inner child and allow for magic in your life’.
For more information about Olga and her art visit www.olgabakhtina.com
OPENING EXHIBITION NIGHT:
Saturday March 12th, from 6pm-9pm
2 & 3 / 850 Hunter Street Newcastle West