"Heat of Fusion" is an artist talk hosted by our January resident artist Nikolina Kovalenko, presenting some of her oil paintings, produced during the residency.
"The series explores the interconnectedness and cross-symbolism of the forces that shaped Iceland - ice, fire and water. What do they have in common in this vast volcanic land elevated by the fire, carved by the glaciers, tamed by the ocean?
Fire strives upward and water falls downward, and I see them as opposing passions culminating in the same the same processes: purification, release of emotion, rejuvenation and renewal of spirit.
Fire is the only one of four classic elements that humans can master themselves. When we also learn to produce water and air, maybe we could finally turn the destruction we cause into creation. Nature can teach us the secret of transformation through uniting our inner contradictions, like fire and water coexist and complement each other.
Ice and fire each burn on our skin, and it is hard to distinguish one sensation from the other.
White is both the color for the frost and the hottest part of the flame. It is a color of possibility, perfection, spirituality, light, and it encourages the purification of thoughts and actions.
Fire in many cultures it is a symbol of truth and catharsis. Descending water represents transmission of knowledge from a higher to a lower place, continuous flow of new ideas and inspiration. Crashing down in a waterfall it symbolizes unleashed creativity in a constant fluid shape that is ever changing and renewing. They both represent
openness, flexibility, transformation, power, continuous evolution, conflict, and permanence of content despite change of form.
To me water symbolizes passage of time and subtly visible change in nature, and frozen waterfalls feel like the whole concept of time magically terminated for a brief moment.
I chose aluminum as a painting surface to convey the austerity,
endurance and subtle glory of Iceland."
Nikolina is interested in humanity’s vanishing connection with Nature and strives to expose the consequences our everyday actions have on the environment.
Her work explores the symbolism of textures found in Nature,
magnifying the mundane and transforming it into the sublime.
Kovalenko works with fragile ecosystems creating artwork inspired by locations specific to each project. Her subjects range from global warming, deforestation and coral bleaching, to processing and interpreting visual landscape and cultural associations.