Inna Skidan, brought up in Ukraine and now living in the U.S., draws on the richness of her heritage and the cyclical highs and lows of romantic love in her abstract figurative work. When asked about what her work is about, she chuckles and explains: “My paintings are about life and love. Sometimes you feel love—sometimes not.”
In Tree of Life, the Ukrainian rushnyk (a ceremonial towel or swatch of fabric and a true labor of love) is shown, along with a figure of a bird and a man. In Ukraine, the rushnyk follows a person’s life from birth to marriage and, ultimately, to death. When they are born, babies are wrapped in a rushnyk, sometimes carrying this birth rushnyk into other rites as well. When a person dies their body is also covered in a rushnyk for the funeral. During the marriage ceremony, the couple will step on yet another rushnyk (also the word for “road” in Ukrainian) to symbolize their new journey together—whoever steps onto it first is said to have “the last word” in the marriage. During engagement, the future bride presents an (often handcrafted) ornamental rushnyk to her future bridegroom. If a groom was to “steal” a bride from someone else’s rushnyk…well that would be a tale! It’s that story that informs Skidan’s Tree of Life which features a rogue beau stealing a “lovebird” from another’s rushnyk.
Skidan not only portrays the rites of passage in life, but also the process of getting there. She embraces the tongue-in-cheek—telling the tales that have been handed down over generations—pieced together with a bit of magic. In Unrequited Love, a male figure and female figure form a quasi circle, while the man’s nonchalant gaze is right ahead, the woman faces him, her body contorted as if to say “I would bend over backward for you.” Continuing the romantic love bird imagery, Skidan comments, “the woman is fluttering around like a bird” while the man remains completely focused ahead.
Inna Skidan’s solo exhibit “Shadowed” is on display in the Gallery until August 4.
About the Artist:
Inna Skidan was born in Zhitomir, near Kyiv, Ukraine. Always an artist at heart, Skidan continued her creative pursuits after immigrating to the United States. Skidan has long been inspired by the universal stores of sensitivity and strength that come from Ukrainian folklore. She strives to fill her work with light and life, often experimenting with color, texture, and medium to strike a balance between abstract shapes and narrative focus.