“Being a living artist in the 21st century means feeling every day, as the famous English saying goes, that the world is your oyster,” says London-based abstract artist Lara Julian.

Julian’s captivating journey – from being born and living in Siberia until her 30s to independently becoming a full-time artist in London – proves it is never too late to follow your passion. Her story demonstrates that achieving recognition beyond the local art scene is entirely possible.

It was not until 2009, when Julian felt that her career and life needed a radical change and she wanted to return to painting, to which she had nurtured a pronounced interest from an early age. For four years, alongside her office job, Lara Julian planned her path to becoming a professional artist and began with academic preparation, completing various programmes at her local fine art school in Novosibirsk. In 2014, she left her hometown with a desire to expose herself to more experimental and interdisciplinary approaches to art-making, to push the boundaries of traditional practices, and to find a unique artistic voice. She chose New York as her first destination.

“I spent one year in the US, where I studied at the School of Visual Arts (SVA NYC). I will always remember the feeling of finding myself in the epicentre where the most progressive art is being created, while simultaneously having access to the world’s most significant art collections. Of course, I was trying to absorb it all. In Autumn 2014, I met Ahmed Alsoudani, a renowned artist from Iraq who had fled to the United States in search of a new life and opportunities for development, at the opening of his solo exhibition at Gladstone Gallery. It was a profoundly impressive encounter that only served to reinforce my confidence in the decision I had made to change my life.”

From the very beginning, Julian began painting on large canvases, measuring 2 by 2 meters, finding it challenging to scale down when she was working on building her body of work. She understood her love for monumental scale in New York when she saw the works of one of the most influential contemporary figurative painters, Neo Rauch, at his solo exhibition At the Well in 2014 at David Zwirner Gallery.

In 2015, Lara Julian relocated to London to continue her education at the UCL Slade School of Fine Art. During her studies, she developed a particular interest in the practices of Wassily Kandinsky, Josef Albers, Joan Mitchell, Patrick Heron, Piero Dorazio, Carlos Cruz-Diez, and Bridget Riley, which helped Julian find and shape her own identity as an artist. Through abstract painting, she began to explore colour as an independent force. The artist’s primary focus is to demonstrate how the varied approaches to colour-building rules and playing with its technical properties can influence and alter its visual effect.

“I want to create self-sufficient, aesthetically pleasing, and harmonious compositions that are open to interpretation by my viewers. I want my paintings to spread positive energy.”

Lara Julian’s career continues to progress, with solo exhibitions at D Contemporary in London’s Mayfair, J/M Gallery in Notting Hill, Gallery 8 in St James’s, and Burgh House in Hampstead, as well as participation in more than ten group exhibitions, the Artexpo New York Art Fair, and numerous collaborations with private members clubs, restaurants, and interior design studios, among others. One of the upcoming projects is a collaboration with the deep-tech start-up, which developed a unique technology for life-like 3D reconstruction of scenes. Users will be able to walk Lara Julian’s artist studio and examine the arts indistinguishable from real life in VR.

“Young colleagues, especially those who, like me, have come to London from abroad, often ask for my advice on how to enter the public space and get their art seen. Two actions I recommend starting with are finding a local art school that will help you grow in your specialty and beginning to build and expand your body of work. To start your exhibition portfolio, participate in group exhibitions with other emerging artists. Many galleries specialise in supporting young talents and providing a platform for them. Search for open calls, attend private views and exhibition openings, and follow what other artists are doing around the world. Establishing yourself in a new society, you may sometimes feel fragile, scared, and struggling, but do not give up and continue to explore your opportunities.”

Listen to more about Lara Julian’s story on From The Bloc podcast:

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Instagram: larajulian_artist | larajulian_art


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