In Greek mythology, the sacred phoenix, with its characteristically striking plumage in flaming yellow, orange, and red, is known for its ability to resurrect. When the bird’s long life is nearing an end, flames engulf its body, and the being is reborn as a chick in the ashes of its predecessor, giving it the distinction of resilience, regeneration, and immortality. As Yulia Brodskaya began to apply the curled and crimped tendrils of paper to her latest work, she tells Colossal that the firebird portrait “started as a visual representation of a powerful feeling rising from the deep,” adding that “it felt like this portrait has been ‘channelled’ through me.”
Brodskaya captures the subtleties of individual expression and character in her elaborate portraits (previously) and depictions of flora and fauna. Through boldly colored papers that are rolled, folded, and layered, she reveals a flurry of feathers or the contours of a face in intricate detail, like the sense of serene contemplation that permeates “Samurai Dreams.” She wants every piece to send a message, suggesting viewers “pay attention to what emotion or feeling comes up for you in the first moments you see it—until the mind begins to dissect the details and offer loud opinions about why you like or dislike it. That initial quiet voice is the whisper of intuition. That’s the place I create my best work from.”
You can find more information about Brodskaya’s work on her website, and she regularly shares videos of her process on Instagram.