Yuliya Lanina’s artistic tales tell fantastic, often dark stories


Yuliya Lanina mines folk tales, diving into original and decidedly less Disneyesque versions than we are accustomed to today.

The Russian-born, Austin-based artist creates wondrous paintings and small-scale mechanical sculptures — music boxes that play melodies by composer Yevgeniy Sharlat, Lanina’s husband.

Since settling in Austin several years ago, Lanina has had an intriguing solo exhibit at Women and Their Work, created a whimsical public sculpture in Ramsey Park and shown in pop-up shows. Now, her latest work gets the spotlight at Camiba Art Gallery through Sept. 10.

In Lanina’s fictive universe, animals are anthropomorphized, or they resemble ancient half-human, half-animal demigods. Flora, trees and plants have human characteristics, too. And Lanina packs in more than an undercurrent of darkness and violence and sexuality.

Lanina injects each scene and tableaux with a kind of giddy fatalism, too. Hybrid human-animals may dance together, but that dance teeters on the edge of a melee.

This is the stuff of original folk tales — the unsettling cautionary tales collected by the Brothers Grimm, the moody dark stories of Lanina’s native Russia. And it is the stuff of the human unconscious at its basest, uncensored by societal constraints.

The artist is augmenting her exhibit at Camiba with a poetry reading Aug. 28. She invited a handful of local poets to respond to her work.

During the Fusebox Festival this spring, Lanina performed “Not a Sad Tale” to capacity crowds. Lanina stood against a screen, her morphing drawings projected from behind and on her as she coordinated her movements to visually and wordlessly narrate one of her typically surreal enigmatic stories.

Lanina will reprise “Not a Sad Tale” on Sept. 10 in a free performance. Seating is limited, and reservations are a must. It’s a wonderfully strange show not to be missed.



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