Ulyana Gumeniuk was born in Soviet Ukraine. The daughter of a dissident artist, she was exposed to the secret gatherings of nonconformist art groups in Leningrad from the age of nine and was influenced later by their discussions about Formalism and Constructivism. She studied Fine Art at the Art Academy in Saint Petersburg where she received a classical training evident in oil painting. She finished her studies at London’s St Martins School of Art, graduating in 1996. She now lives and works in Cambridge.
Characteristic of her large-scale hyperrealist paintings is a merging of contemporary and historical imagery. She often references the history of art, for example the works of 16th- and 17th-century Flemish masters. However, she also incorporates images from contemporary life, such as modern industry, science data and environmental waste.
In the intriguing and multi-layered work, ‘Family’, Gumeniuk uses linear perspective – a technique employed by Renaissance artists like Giotto and Brunelleschi. The different planes and vanishing point (in this case, the tiny house) create the illusion of depth. On each plane stands a series of ambiguous human figures exhibiting a range of emotions: in the foreground a pair of dispassionate androgynous figures dressed in Renaissance robes, a tutu and modern medical apparatus; in the middle two disfigured and angry judges; and in the background a row sombre Slavic peasants holding puppy dogs. The last of these stare out at the viewer, returning his or her gaze.