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Exhibition Title

Olga Volchkova: The Nature Of Religion


McKenzie Gallery

Start Date

15 September 2015

End Date

13 March 2016


Trained as an icon painter and conservator, artist Olga Volchkova (American, born Russia, 1970) uses her knowledge of Orthodox iconography and her love of botany to create provocative paintings that explore traditional icon writing and the history of florae. Iconographic types become universal symbols through which to explore the interconnectedness of humans with both the spiritual and the natural worlds. By conducting intensive research about each plant specimen she portrays, Volchkova creates visual narratives that explore the mythologies humans have created around plants.

In her complex compositions, she expertly renders imagined saints, which personify each plant, as well as the form of each leaf, petal, and tendril. She depicts all manner of plant life: decorative types, such as lilies, peonies, and roses; edible specimens, such as vegetables, fruits, herbs, and plants with purported medicinal properties; as well as potentially toxic examples, such as belladonna and datura. Often quoting passages from medieval manuscripts in her paintings, she succinctly details each plant’s long history and illustrates unique attributes.

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