Emotion Within Elena Burykina: Brushed Expressions 

Written by Meghan E. Gattignolo   

Often, the works of art we admire hint at a deep ocean of context. We feel a secret universe hidden just beneath the surface of the paint. We long to bring this deep meaning to light, to pull it apart and examine it. Sometimes, though, this deeper meaning evaporates under scrutiny, consisting solely of indescribable emotions we are only meant to feel. Artist Elena Burykina has created such works within the exhibit Elena Burykina: Brushed Expressions. 

Elena’s world began with art. An artist from earliest childhood, Elena loved to draw. She remembers drawing and painting almost every day from kindergarten on. Though she knew she wanted to be an artist, choosing a profession was still not a simple decision. When it was time for Elena to choose a career path, her country was in the midst of a major change.  

Elena Burykina
Oil on panel

“I grew up in Ukraine, and when the time came to choose a path for higher education and career, the country was in a difficult period,” Elena said. “It had just become independent, and it was a chaotic transition.” Needing to secure stable employment, she pursued architecture – a subject compatible with the classical art education she was already learning, and a profession compatible with her interests. She worked as an architect for several years.  

“I continued to paint and draw throughout my work as an architect until I eventually started to work part-time in a local private art atelier and teach children.” This change to part-time work led Elena into a transition, focusing more on her own art. After moving to the United States and relocating to Chattanooga in 2013, plunging into her own work is exactly what she did.  

Elena Burykina
Oil on panel

There is something very pure and fresh within Elena’s work. Perhaps that freshness is due to where her ideas for her subjects arise. For Brushed Expressions, Elena cites nature as her main inspiration. “Wild wind” on a “winter ocean beach,” moving the “sand and transparent silk fabric” is the imagery she conjures when asked about her vision. The viewer can easily understand the connection. Swathes of ocean-colored fabric whip through several of the pieces, obscuring the faces of the human subjects.  

Elena Burykina
Oil on panel

For Elena, the bottom line is emotion. Each piece is heavily imbued with feelings, reflecting “a range of emotions” that the artist experienced and felt around her as she worked. “Each painting has an emotional experience that is like an additional layer that exists between the layers of paint,” Elena explained. In other words, the emotions she felt while creating became a part of the painting, as tangible as the paint itself. Elena would like her paintings to stir and evoke emotions in the visitors who come to admire her work.  

“I hope visitors will feel their own emotional experience or the reflection of a previous experience, even if it is not the same as mine. I hope the viewer senses some connection with the art.” 

Don’t miss the extraordinary exhibit Elena Burykina: Brushed Expressions. Feel the emotions for yourself in the Jostens Gallery on the Lower Level of the Museum, now until May 21, 2023. 

Meghan E. Gattignolo is a freelance writer and longtime Clarksville, TN resident. She loves to obsess about historical subjects and annoy her family daily with unsolicited random facts. Meghan holds a History B.A. from Austin Peay State University and lives in town with her husband and two daughters. 

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