Flora Yukhnovich, painter reinterpreting Old Master imagery, joins Hauser & Wirth

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Flora Yukhnovich, a British artist in her early 30s known for fluid canvases that draw from the pastel scenery of Rococo and Baroque paintings, has joined global mega-gallery Hauser & Wirth. The gallery will represent her in collaboration with Victoria Miro, with whom Yukhnovich first had a solo show in 2020. Her debut with Hauser & Wirth will be a solo exhibition at one of the gallery’s Los Angeles locations in 2024.

“Flora is an artist with a remarkable creative vision who is defining her own language of painting to conjure a compelling universe,” Iwan Wirth, the gallery’s president, said in a statement. “There is an unmistakable force and energy to her work. She mines art history while applying conceptual rigour in considering a broad sweep of cultural references from 18th-century painting to the current day.”

The Norwich-born, London-based painter studied portraiture at the Heatherley School of Fine Art and, in 2017, earned her MA from the City & Guilds of London Art School. She had her first solo shows at Brocket Gallery and Parafin in London. Her work marries a very contemporary interest in the boundaries between abstraction and figuration, as well as a fascination with the tactility of painting, with a scholarly devotion to the history of painting.

Flora Yukhnovich, Pontecello, 2020 © Flora Yukhnovich. Courtesy the artist, Hauser & Wirth and Victoria Miro

“To me, there is something corporeal about paint and I’m interested in the way a painterly gesture can talk about the physical experience of touch in a visceral way, breaking down the distance between the viewer and work,” Yukhnovich has said.

Very quickly after her first solo exhibitions, her work started to appear on the secondary market, where it routinely fetched sums many multiples larger than auction houses’ estimates. In October 2021, for instance, Sotheby’s offered her 2020 painting I’ll Have What She’s Having during its contemporary art evening sale in London, with an estimate of £60,000 to £80,000. After a flurry of bids from Asia and the US, it sold for £2.5m (including fees)—more than 30 times the high estimate.

Primary market prices have risen at a somewhat more measured pace, but on the secondary market her large canvases consistently command seven-figure sums. At Frieze London last year, Victoria Miro sold her 2019 painting Fantasia for $2m after a collector had sold it back to the gallery. “If it’s secondary, it has to be in that ball park,” Glenn Scott-Wright, a parter and director at the gallery, said at the time.

Flora Yukhnovich, She is Beauty and She is Grace, 2022 © Flora Yukhnovich. Courtesy the artist, Hauser & Wirth and Victoria Miro

Yukhnovich’s paintings that initially caught the art market’s attention drew inspiration from works by Rococo painters like François Boucher, Antoine Watt and Jean-Honoré Fragonard. More recent works feature a somewhat darker palette and draw inspiration from Dutch still lifes by the likes of Ambrosius Bosschaert, Clara Peeters and Rachel Ruysch. In new works that will go on view at the Ashmolean Museum in Oxford next month, Yukhnovich turns the rich symbolism of the still life genre into a vessel for reflections about the female body, sexuality and reproduction, while also referencing representations of women in horror films.

“Yukhnovich’s fleshy, visceral and allengulfing painting language can be interpreted in relation to an untamed side of women, which horror films feature in highly aestheticised and exaggerated form,” Lena Fritsch, a curator of modern and contemporary art at the Ashmolean, has written. “Above all, however, these paintings convey Yukhnovich’s strong love for the medium of paint and the creative process of painting.”

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