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Helen Bennett has been an artist since childhood and is never happier than when she’s creating pictures or sculptures.  She studied Art A level and specialised in Art for her BA(QTS) Hons degree, graduating from the University of Warwick in 1995.  Helen works mostly with traditional 2D media, and has always had a fascination for the human face in all its beauty and variety. Whilst she has focused largely on portrait work over the years, she also loves spending time in the great outdoors - in the British Isles and further afield - and taking inspiration from the natural and human world for landscape projects.

Having left full-time teaching recently, Helen has been able to devote more time to her art with the aim of making it her sole career.  She is thrilled by her progress and by the diversity of her work over the last twelve months and is excited to be doing what she loves the most.  Her style is realistic; she likes to create pieces that mean something - that evoke memories or portray special people and places. Helen works with graphite and coloured pencil, charcoal, paper-crafting, pastels, pen, acrylic paint and mixed media.

“Angel Tears” 20×16 inches, Acrylic on Canvas, 2021 ©Helen

Helen chose “Angel Tears” as her “mono”. She shares, “After leaving full time teaching last year, I’ve been working very hard at expanding my repertoire and portfolio. During this year’s lockdown, I decided to do something in the fantasy genre – the genre I would most love to work within. “Angel Tears” represents my ideas on feelings of isolation, frustration and wasted opportunities that many of us have felt during the pandemic.  I recently discovered the painting “Fallen Angel” by Alexandre Cabanel which features in an important scene in the second book by my emerging author friend, Richard Shoptaw. I find the links between the biblical Lucifer and literary/popular culture characters to be very interesting.  I have an amateur interest in psychology and a fascination in the nature/nurture argument.  What circumstances might cause a person to go “off the rails”; to turn to toxic or destructive behaviour – even to pure evil? I hoped to capture these ideas and emotions with intensity, colour and good composition.  This is a very important picture to me, having harboured ambitions to illustrate fantasy books all my life.  “Angel Tears” was created using all of the above, plus a wooden mannequin, stock and personal photographs, obliging family members and several preparatory sketches.”

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Carina Chang is a first-generation Chinese American painter based in New York. Her parents immigrated from Hong Kong and the Dominican Republic, and she was raised between the USA and Hong Kong. Her work examines the dysphoria around her cultural identity and self-identity. The paintings question memory to understand generational trauma. She confronts the unreliable narrator and challenges figuration in a Western world by representing her body. She graduated in 2016 at Rutgers University in New Brunswick, New Jersey.

“Waiting” 16×12 inches, Oil on Canvas, 2021 ©Carina

Carina chose “Waiting” as her “mono”.  She says, “This piece was made when I was spending my summers in Taiwan. It depicts my grandfather who is saying goodbye to us as we returned to the States. The thought of returning to a familiar face was always comforting. With time and distance, the memories of my grandfather have been blurred. This work is the “one” for me because it speaks about relationship with my family in Taiwan. The waiting, whether it be waiting for someone’s return or waiting for change, is painful. It reminds me that family relationships are fragile, and memories are nostalgic. This piece is also the “one” because it was one of the first oil paintings that I had ever made. It was reworked a couple of times during my career to its current stage. It serves as a reminder that art is a process, and it is our role as the creator to trust the process.”

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After painting attempts in his youth, Thomas Christians at the age of 26, sees pictures of Frida Kahlo in a monograph. Her pain is not foreign to him. Also pictures of the young Marc Chagall and later artists of the New York School impress him very much. At a visit to his mother, he finds in the basement, colors that belonged to his father, who died early. Now it is driving him to become painfully active again. He tries to express his feelings with color and form. Although, more in abstract painting settled, a correspondence of the elements, a narrative point of view, is important to him right from the start. Thomas grew up in Magdeburg and lived for many years in the Dresden-Bautzen-Görlitz area. In 2009 he moved to Markkleeberg near Leipzig. Leipzig influenced him. The style of his work became more consistent, graphic, color-emptier, reduced. Figurative elements emerge more clearly.

Recently, more color and a somewhat quieter rhythm enters his work. Thomas Christians tries to be within himself while painting. He is pleased when viewers find surprising interpretations to his pictures, are emotionally touched. A successful picture for Thomas is when a correspondence with the painting ground, the color and the working tools developed at the breaking point of a “lost boy“. Frequently, his works are on personal relationship braids they are embedded in a historical or literary context or he deals with current political themes. Transitions and boundaries are fluent here.

“Lost II”56×42 cm, Oil Pastel on Paper, 2015 ©Thomas

Thomas chose “Lost II” as his “mono”. He shares, “In 2015, I was really not doing that well, so I decided to go to a hospital. At first I couldn't even think of art. When I started to feel a little better and there were creative offers. So, I tried oil pastel for the first time. Dreadful. I felt absolutely no relation to paper or the drawing medium. Sometime later, the doctors told me that I could draw on an empty patient floor, which I gladly accepted. I started working more and more on this series. When it became clearer, I set the technical framework. A pen and a movement. This is how my first series with oil pastel came about, from which I would like to show sheet 2. When I look at this work today, it reminds me about the time back then and sometimes I find new nuances. It was also the discovery of a new medium that was not actually intended. Even today I still like to work with oil pastel on paper and try to express what moves me. Perhaps, I hope this work also gives other people strength and inspiration. I would be happy.”

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Gianlluca Carneiro is a Brazilian Visual Artist born in the historic city of Mariana, Minas Gerais, presently living in Belo Horizonte. He had his first contact with art at the age of six in a small studio in the center of Mariana. He holds a law degree from the Federal University of Viçosa and is an art & education student at the Center for Artistic and Technological Training (CEFART). Since the beginning of the pandemic, he has deepened his studies and artistic production, mainly, but not exclusively, in painting. There are several works that explore political, social and individual themes, created using various means such as acrylic paint, oil, oil pastels, spray and digital painting. Art emerged and continues to be his genuine form of expression.​​

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“Blue Humour” 50 cm, Acrylic on Canvas, 2021 ©Gianlluca

Gianlluca chose “Blue Humour” as his “mono”. He shares, “this work is the one for me because it represents a big turning point in my life. At the beginning of 2021, when the pandemic was at its peak in Brazil, I found myself very lost as I had just graduated in law and did not identify with the profession at all. During the period of isolation, I took up on painting again and started painting every day. I remember I was having a bad week and I started to paint this work. By the end of it, my anxieties were gone and I knew the path I wanted to take. In addition, over these months she was always chosen for virtual and collective exhibitions and even as a finalist in my first art fair (Doncaster Art Fair). Maybe it's not my most technical painting, but it's definitely the most representative of my art and who I am. It addresses a very strong aspect of my paintings, which is very influenced by our feelings, anxieties and weaknesses.”

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Victoria Duryagina was born in Russia. In 2008 she moved to the Czech Republic, where she graduated from the university with an IT degree. In her works, she explores the topic of escapism and virtual reality through the prism of psychological instability. To create her works, she combines traditional techniques with digital elements, which allows her to stay on the edge of the real and virtual world. In these, she sees an opportunity for going beyond the boundaries of the system.

The problem of escapism is usually a consequence of not fully accepting oneself. Trying to escape from reality, we hope to find a soulmate. Someone who would understand us without words. But finding a soulmate is not easy. And many people never meet them in their lives. In fact, everyone can become a soulmate for themselves, all you need to do is look in the mirror. You are the one in front of which you cannot be ashamed of. The one who can pull you out of depression and make you dance. The one who gives you hope. Your soulmate is the best part of you. Victoria wants to show that any positive changes in reality are possible with awareness and acceptance of the true self.

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“Mono” 80×110 cm, Oil on Canvas, 2021 ©Victoria

Victoria chose “Mono” as her “mono”. She shares, “I painted this painting with a feeling of inner transition to my new self. Going through a pandemic crisis, I repeatedly had thoughts about what I would want to do right now if it was the last day. I wish I could love myself more. The Moon has always been my soulmate. In dialogue with it, I feel most free and real. Society always likes more extroverted, energetic people. It seems much easier for extroverts to achieve success in life.  And moon-like people, calm and invisible, remain always in the shadows. I used to have a hard time accepting this side of me, I always wanted to be something that I am not. I promise to try to love myself more. After all, even though the sun brightens everything around, the moon can reflect sunlight even in the darkest night.”

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Oxana Kovalchuk is an artist from Kazakhstan, currently living and working in New Jersey. She received her BA in Psychology and Economics from Omsk State University in Russia. She completed her MFA in Fine Arts from the School of Visual Arts in New York in 2019. Kovalchuk’s artistic process is an exploration of her overlapping experiences as a woman, immigrant, mother, and as an artist. Her mixed-media collages use a combination of sourced and invented imagery to establish new hybrid worlds.

“Moving the Walls Apart” 20×16 inches,

Acrylic, Decorative Paper, Printed Images on Cardboard, 2020 ©Oxana

Oxana chose “Moving the Walls Apart” as her “mono”. She shares, “I decided to submit my collage Moving the Walls Apart from “The Kingdom of Crooked Mirrors” series. In this series I create new, hybrid spaces that transform the meaning of familiar imagery. I bend the rules of geometry to create distorted perspectives and new realities. This way, I destroy existing societal structures to create my own system of rules. This series is about how much can be achieved in life if there is that desire. I chose Moving the Walls Apart as I believe that it perfectly reflects the idea that everything is possible. This collage is very concise. I move boundaries apart in it – in the straightforward meaning, twirling the whole space into the central point.”

“In this mixed media collage I used cardboard as a base, which I cover in a variety of media, including gouache, pastels, and decorative paper. I added a layer of recognizable images from magazines and other sources, including cut-outs of bodies or body parts, and domestic objects like vases and sofas. When I place the original images in my new space, their meaning can change completely. The same body might represent strength in one context, but fear in another, depending on my placement.”

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Sascha Chestopalove was born in Podolsk, Russia. Sascha has been actively painting since the year 2015, also received educational experience from the Moscow Art & Promotional Institute – MHPI in Graphic Design. In 2017, Sascha left Russian and travelled to many parts of Europe living in Rome, Belgrade, Milano, Nice and Barcelona.

“Le Chercher” , Pastel on Paper, 2019 ©Sascha

Sascha chose “Le Chercher” as her “mono”. He shares,

“In the center of the story can be seen a rushing man.

He is looking for a path, a path to mystical goal.

He is tired of incessant twisting pedals-Maybe to get a stop?

And disappears in the sea of calmness ?

But no... Some strange spirit, inside him, knows his weakness...

His energy is infinite and inexhaustible.

It gives a person strength, to continues go forward, with a double power.”

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© 2021 by, Aishwarya Kulkarni

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