Yelena Popova recently returned to West Dean College’s Visual Arts studios to complete her residency, the first phase of which began in February 2017. During the remaining two weeks of her project, Yelena continued to experiment with ongoing work in ceramics, including making glazes with locally sourced materials. This intense period of making resulted in a number of new works, giving Yelena the opportunity to make use of some of the College’s Raku firings. This traditional Japanese method results in unpredictable textures and surface effects in the fired clay, which expanded Yelena’s experience and understanding of the possibilities of different material combinations and firing techniques.
Known primarily as a painter, Yelena’s uses of glazed ceramic constitutes an extension of her use of softened and semi-transparent geometric forms. Her paintings open up conversations about the materiality of the medium of paint, so the implications for future work in ceramics is particularly interesting. Her wider work uses various materials and draws on different methods of production, from painting on canvas and ceramics, to tapestry and computer-generated coding. The work often draws on the different histories of abstraction, from vanishing forms to the abstractions of capital.Yelena has recently been working on a series of tapestries, building on research undertaken during the West Dean residency, including visits to the John Piper tapestries at Chichester Cathedral, some of which were woven at West Dean Tapestry Studio.
After studying at the Moscow Art Theatre School, Yelena Popova completed her MA in Painting at the Royal College of Art in 2011. Based in Nottingham, her work has been exhibited in Stockholm, San Francisco, Basel, Vienna and New York, with solo shows at Figge von Rosen Gallery (now Philipp von Rosen) in Cologne, and Zabludowicz Collection and Paradise Row in London. Her work is held in the Arts Council and Saatchi collections, among others.