Tania & Yur y Darashkevich
Artists to Collect
previous page, Duo, acrylic and resin on wood panel, 17" x 20" above, Distinctive Order, acrylic on canvas, 17" x 20"
He Paints, She Paints Atmospheric landscapes; classic nudes; Old Masters-inspired still lifes â€“ traditional subjects independently rendered with style and a contemporary flourish by husband and wife artists Tania & Yury Darashkevich. While the couple shares Eastern European roots, a passion for art and two lovely daughters, their creative output is as individual as their personalities. Yury's romantic 'lands' and beguiling figurative works and Tania's delightful 'tea time' compositions are not only brilliantly executed, but highly imaginative in concept, urging the viewer to linger, relax and reflect.
Tania Darashkevich: Shadows in a Tea Cup Tania was born in historic Priluki, one of the oldest towns in the Ukraine, dating back to circa 1085. When she was growing up, her older brother, Kutzenko Oleg, also an artist, served as her first inspiration and source of art education. From 1980 to 1982, Tania studied art in a more formal capacity at Art College of Dnepropetrovsk, Ukraine, then continued her education along a separate path at State University of St. Petersburg, Russia, where she earned a degree in psychology. Following graduation, in 1988 she moved to Belarus and married artist Yury Darashkevich, who became not only her husband but also "teacher in art." Tania had been working as a practicing psychologist for 10 years, when she and Yury made a drastic life decision to immigrate to Canada with their two young girls. While living in Toronto, Tania changed the focus of her career and began
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written by Lorie Lee Steiner
studying design and working as an artist-enhancer. She states, "At that time, I found another passion of mine – graphic design. Since then, I've been working full time as a graphic designer. But, even though I count art as my hobby, I enjoy being a still life painter and working with real paint." Tania and Yury now live and work in the warmer clime of Florida, but their fond connection to Canada is kept alive, as they enjoy a successful gallery presence in Toronto. Pretty Things All in a Row Anyone who has admired their grandmother's antique china will appreciate the precision and emotion with which Tania embodies her paintings. Simple subjects, steeped in tradition, are playfully arranged in a mélange of colour, shadows and light that stirs the senses. But where an abundance of luscious fruit and beautiful flowers epitomizes
the Victorian and earlier still-life genre, Tania's simplified linear perspective and inclusion of dainty porcelain tea cups adds a refreshing new design dimension. She explains, "When I came to Canada and started to focus on art, I didn't see anyone putting cups and fruits this way, in a row. But it was interesting for me. Art inspires my design and design inspires my art. Sometimes inspiration comes unexpectedly, it could be a combination of colours, shapes, light or all of them together. My artworks are full of light and reflections." As for sharing studio space, Tania says she and Yury never work together in the same room. Being alone is important for both of them. Yury has a studio away from the house and Tania paints in her home office. "My art is like a niche of serenity in my busy life," she says, "I love the moment when I select a clean canvas and start a new piece. I never
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Red But Not Alone, acrylic on canvas, 14" x 28"
above, Sunbathing, acrylic on canvas, 17" x 20" right, Tower With Pear, acrylic on canvas, 20" x 14"
work in public; it is my time, my 'secret' space to escape to from routine life. I don't keep much stuff in my studio room. I do have a collection of tea cups, and sometimes I ask to borrow a cup from my friends, if I see something interesting." "Happy" Art Tania takes plenty of photographs of different subjects and settings, as reference for future works. But her paintings are never the same as the photos. Something inevitably changes: background, colour, proportions or placement of pieces. After experimenting with various techniques and mediums over the years, she now works mostly in oil with an acrylic gel overlay. Each new piece begins with a sketch, followed by seriously creative brushwork in oil. Once the painting is dry, an acrylic gel finish adds texture and interest; the resulting crackled antique background is informed by Tania's love of the Old Masters, particularly French master Watteau.
"I also admire the attention to simple and modest things in Vermeer's artwork, mix of colour and light in Monet's and powerful strokes of Van Gogh," says Tania, "Though, I don't feel like I want to compete with them. My style is realistic, but with a contemporary touch – strikes of light and darkness of the shadows, the brightness of the floral and softness of the texture. I use photographs as references to find the perfect settings, catch the right light – both contribute to the good image. I create a 'happy' artwork." Tania's playful paintings are a favourite of art enthusiasts, winning Canadian 'People's Choice' and International awards. Outside of work, her passions extend to travel, experiencing new cultures and food, and a penchant for German white wine. While being married to a fellow artist might foster a competitive spirit in some couples, in this case there is only respect. Tania and Yury share a close bond on both personal and professional
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Trio, acrylic on canvas, 12" x 24"
Cups & Fruits, acrylic on canvas, 19" x 60"
Melodious Still Life, acrylic on canvas, 12" x 24"
Sea of Grass, acrylic on wood panel, 18" x 60"
Windy, acrylic and resin on wood panel, 17" x 20"
The Fortress, acrylic on wood panel, 48" x 48"
levels. "I always ask him for advice and he always criticizes me," Tania says with a grin. "He is a tough teacher but I trust his opinion. He asks about his work as well, but I don't think my opinion matters for him much. When he thinks his work is ready, then it's ready, no matter what." Yury Darashkevich: Master of 'Mist'ery Intelligent and bold with a wonderful sense of humour, Yury Darashkevich is willing to speak his mind on a great many topics… the exception being his painting technique. "That," he assures us, "is still in progress. I will say the end result is really hard – wood and resin – plus it is pretty heavy. On top of that I cannot explain. I believe that visual art is like a good joke or anecdote. It is dead when you explain it." However, Yury is quite candid about the creative journey and inspiration that led to his current success as a notable landscape and figurative artist. He begins, "I was born in Latitude 53° N, Longitude 28° E = Location = Asipovichi, Belarus
in 1962. No one from my family was, or tried to be, an artist. There were teachers, engineers, a sport coach, accountants, managers... everything, but not an artist. So, at this point I could consider myself as an accident, or even mistake. At least my family was thinking this way at that time." Unbeknownst to others, there was a secret catalyst spurring the young boy's interest in art. He recalls, "My grandpa had a huge collection of '50s black and white magazines with a double colour insert. If there wasn't a portrait of the communist leader, then it was a reproduction of some famous painting. Now I have to make a confession: I vandalised his magazines by tearing out the most beautiful part – colour reproductions. I collected them, browsing and reviewing my treasure every week. Those images became my visual friends. When I was 13 years old, the 'peer pressure' approached a critical point and I painted my first art work. It was the beginning." Yury excelled in High School and his parents envisioned a bright career ahead (lawyer, doctor,
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Waiting for a New Day, acrylic and resin on wood panel, 48" x 48"
scientist), not an "unpredictable, unstable, unreliable" profession as an artist. But their talented son was adamant and, despite all the teenage conflicts and complications, as a good caring family they found a compromise: "I should provide my parents with excellent marks from the school and my mom and dad would let me waste my free time by drawing, painting, sculpting or just dreaming." Yury kept his part of the bargain, then continued to follow his passion by enrolling at the Belarusian State Academy of the Arts. Upon graduating in 1985, he began a career in illustration and graphic design, while painting in his spare time. After several successful shows in the early '90s, art became his main focus. "The highest achievement of my artist's career in Belarus was a Solo Show at the National Art Museum in 1995," he notes. "Shortly after that, my family and I moved to Toronto. Being a full-time artist, I became an Elected Member of the Society of Canadian
Artists in 2009. In 2010, I was recognized by the US Government as a "Person with extraordinary abilities in Art" and granted a Green Card." Not long after moving stateside with his family, Yury opened his second studio in Palm Beach, Florida. Currently, his artwork is exhibited in fine galleries in the US and Canada.
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Residential Metaphors Dealing with two diverse styles and subject matters requires compartmentalizing of certain themes and processes. Yury likens it to owning property at home and away. He explains, "Sometimes, I call my landscapes a 'cottage,' while my figuratives are a 'primary residence.' My cottage is winterized and I can live there year-round, but I don't. Lands are a fun time and also my lab, where I do experiments with colour." Yury's upcoming show at Toronto's Westmount Gallery is dedicated mainly to landscapes; witnessing the fact that he is paying more attention to creating these
above, Glowing Mist, acrylic on wood panel, 24" x 48" below, Foggy Sunshine, acrylic on wood panel, 48" x 48"
above, Splash of Sun, acrylic on wood panel, 24" x 48" right, Light of New Day, acrylic on wood panel, 48" x 48"
moody, mist-shrouded offerings than in the past. His latest landscapes reflect the romantic tradition of old masters but with a distinctly modern edge. That being the medium. Yury paints primarily on wood panel using acrylic paint and a high gloss resin finish, sometimes layering the two to achieve a ghostly effect that beckons the viewer to peer intimately into the fog at what lies beyond... "I like a high gloss surface on my works," he notes. "It allows integration of the surrounding things into the image. Everlasting changes without destruction. Plus H/G resin is a perfect protective finish. But it is highly toxic. Need to work in a wellventilated, free of dust space wearing gas mask and protective clothes. But worth it!" Studio space is a positive influence because of its stark serenity. "Myself, surrounded by emptiness with a few pieces of furniture," says Yury. "Walls are always empty and nobody is there except me. I am not a performance artist. Basically, all my art works – paintings, drawings, designs – are a big part of myself. And all panels, canvases and papers are just a spread evidence of it." Inspiration comes from fog, sun shooting through the trees, reflections, a disproportional face or beautifully sculpted body. "For lands, I
need just a starting point, mood, light, reflection... Usually, I go fog or sun "hunting" with my camera, taking as much pics as I can. Photos are only for reference and a reason for improvisation. I don't remember if I painted even one work which is a copy of my photo. Once I started doing foggy lake with two horses at the edge of the water and, when I finished, the horses became two trees. A couple of my most colourful paintings were based on black and white photos from my student years. I did a lot of plein-air impressionistic paintings back then, and now all 'plein-air' perfectly fit in my studio and my head. Basically, my lands help me express my obsession with light and mist – the great field for experiments with colour." Of his captivating figurative works, Yury says they are done from life models, using photography as reference material. "My works are about visual perception and the ways in which the face or body responds to the colour, line, texture or pattern. The 'Subject' itself, surrounded by "Great Nothing," is my excitement. I try to establish a very private dialogue between the viewer and the subject matter of my painting. It is a simple and sincere conversation without any unnecessary details." Recently, at the Scope art fair in Miami,
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Yury showed some evolutionary paintings that incorporate both of his specialties; a fusion of figures and fog. With typical guile â€“ hinting but not giving too much away â€“ he remarks, "Probably it is just a beginning of something new. Will see." Earning Admittance Encouragement and support are crucial for emerging artists. For Yury, it was a series of 'firsts' that fuelled his artistic endeavours: "My sweet Grandma Stasia, who was a first buyer of my art when I was 16 years old, saying: "Artist must get paid for his work!"; My first teacher in art, Edgar Grek (Kogan), who became my friend and helped me to believe in myself; My first art dealer and collector, Elena Basalaeva, who brought me into the art business." In Yury's mind, being an artist is a humbling experience and the list of influencers is vast. He muses, "For me it is like a Universe, like an energy field where your only dream is to be "admitted to."
If I had a magic flashlight randomly highlighting that field you would see the shadows of Tarkovsky, Rembrandt, Bacon, Dostoevsky, Vermeer, Corot, Ancient Pyramids, Turner, Jarman, Velazquez, Lynch... Oh, we better save our ink!" By today's exacting standards, there is no doubt that Yury Darashkevich has not only been 'admitted to' the elite world of artists, but truly belongs there. His power to 'mist'ify knows no bounds. View the artistic genius of Yury Darashkevich online at www.yurydarash.com Enjoy the charming paintings of Tania Darashkevich online at: www.artworkbytania. com Email: firstname.lastname@example.org Phone: 561.301.7828 Gallery representation in Canada: Westmount Gallery Toronto, ON www.westmountgallery.com 416.239.5427