Baba Yaga” 6×8 m, acrylic on wooden panel, painted for @strtartmuseum , Saint Petersburg. In this year edition the theme was “mythology”, and I rapidly realized I’d paint my own version of Baba Yaga, the supreme witch of Eastern European folklore. Before the Christian takeover, Baba Yaga was a positive female figure related to the forest, a protective and creative spirit of the wildlife. Although, once the Church banned paganism, she was turned into a negative character (exactly like Greek god Pan was turned into the Devil), which explain the eternal conflict between ‘rational’ (Apollo) and ‘instinctive’ (Dioniso) and the attempt to control society throughout religion. This iconoclastic approach created a deformed/ ferocious looking version of the woman, that became the ‘Boogieman’ of Easter European folklore. Still, her figure may be ambiguous, as she commonly appears as a villain or a donor depending on the folktale. I was lucky enough to find a very old Ivan Bilibin book (one of the greatest Russian illustrator and artist) in the library of my home town, and I begin being obsessed with this character since young age. The fact she could shift from good to evil gave her the psychological depth that I was missing in the majority of villains in other books and fairytales. The homage I payed alternate between horror and enchantment, exactly like this marvelous, frightful figure, with a complete “anti-street” aesthetic, playing the role of a massive book cover completely in contrast with the industrial underground context.
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