Yelena Lezhen is an American artist. Her preferred media is oil, acrylic and ink on canvas and paper. She immigrated to the US from Kiev, Ukraine in 1989 and settled down in New York.
Yelena participated in numerous art exhibitions in the US and Europe, and won a number of juried selection art competitions and awards. Her paintings and drawings can be found in private collections around the world, including United States, Germany, Israel, Russia, and Ukraine.
Sabrina Falzone, Curator
The elegance of the symbol
The artistic explorations by Yelena Lezhen immediately capture one's attention due to her extraordinary gift for self-expression through synthesis. For the artist ─ Ukrainian by origin, American by adoption ─ the key moment in pictorial representation, aside from artistic details or virtuosity, is the special importance conferred to symbols.
Elegant, refined and responsive, Yelena Lezhen's symbolism bears an emotionality which, combined with the mythical narration and nourished by strong fantastical characterization, manages to express, soberly and directly, a specific emotive atmosphere. In the work entitled “A dream”, the composition is exalted through a mythically depicted oneiric setting. This atmosphere is enriched by narrative lightness in “Leda and the Swan“, which deals with the Greek myth, revisited through a novel interpretation and a soft touch.
Mythology is an inexhaustible source of inspiration for Yelena Lezhen, as it has been for painters, poets and writers from every age and from all corners of the world. Depicted characters vibrate on the canvas, retelling the myth in fresh new terms. The works often include half-human and half-animal figures, thus highlighting the fine line between humankind and the animal world where all actions are connected to instinct, to that irrational and essential part which, though mitigated by a general sense of civic duty, all too often erupts into brutality in contemporary society.
One of the themes particularly embraced by the artist is undoubtedly the concept of metamorphosis. Her paintings desire to say that everything is changing: we are changing by interacting with external stimuli. We are not the same today as we were yesterday and tomorrow we will not be the same as we are now. Everything changes, everything evolves and everything flows. Observing Lezhen's designs one once again hears the words of the ancient Greek philosopher Heraclitus, "Panta rhei", where a single consciousness reigns: everything can change, even independently of our will.
Yelena Lezhen's evolving style highlights this metamorphic aspect, preferring the simplicity of design. With a few brush strokes, the artist is able to express everything. The visitor's eye does not wander into sterile descriptive minutiae, but focuses on the highly emotive content of the figurative depiction.
The artworks are made with a mixed technique on black paper, harmoniously blending acrylic colors into the design, frequently resorting to the use of gold and silver tones. Gold and silver emphasize the artwork's precious nature and enrich it with a refined connotation.
Yelena Lezhen's pictorial language is rich with cultural references and themes from the historical-artistic tradition. The work “Remembering Fontainebleau” clearly references the famous late sixteenth century painting “Portrait of Gabrielle d’Estrées and Duchess of Villars”, created by the Fontainebleau School around 1594.
Going beyond the allusions to historical-artistic models of the Renaissance, Yelena Lezhen distinguishes herself with a unique and undeniable style, capable of lyrical outbursts and essential scenes, divorced from the environmental contexts.
The work, “A Garden of Love”, intensely expresses the artist's love of life, portraying another of her dearest themes: love. Love abounds in every brush stroke of Yelena Lezhen's art ─ all of it contained within the elegance of the symbol.
This is what the artist herself says of her art:
''In my work, I try to capture what is arising in my mind: thoughts, memories, dreams, and fairy tales. These are stories that sometimes slowly or sometimes fast unfold on my canvases. To understand what I mean, a passing glance is usually not enough. One needs to stop for a while, observe closely, get out of the closed room of stereotypes and open the door leading to understanding what I try to convey.
Many of my artworks are made in mixed media technique. I harmoniously blend ink drawings into acrylic colors. This sometimes almost random arrangement of abstract acrylic blots on paper helps me to bring up images from my imagination. I frequently resort to using of gold and silver tones. Gold and silver emphasize the artwork's precious nature and enrich it with a refined connotation. ''