by Rachel Vancelette for Urban Mindz
Lina Iris Viktor is a conceptual artist, photographer, performance artist and painter living and working between New York and London. This new art world sensation (only creating works for five years) has found her passion and creates prolifically in her studios. The New York Times described her exciting work as “Queenly self-portraits with a futuristic edge.” Raised in London, she traveled extensively, spending much of her early years living in Johannesburg, South Africa. She originally studied film, directing and cinematography, and worked with legendary film director Spike Lee before realizing filmmaking was not her destiny.
Recasting contradicting narratives surrounding America’s involvement in the founding of Liberia, the exhibition Lina Iris Viktor: A Haven. A Hell. A Dream Deferred explores the mythicized history of the West African Nation. Her display of artwork fusing mythological and religious subjects resonates with the layering of paint in blues, reds, black in resin, acrylic paint, gouache, along with vibrant 24-karat gold embellishment echoing the Renaissance period. Her work specifically honors portraiture depicting imaginary Babylonian goddesses, Western Madonnas, Japanese geishas and more.
Viktor’s advance in the arts world places her in the stellar company of rising stars like contemporary artists Devan Shimoyama, Nathaniel Mary Quinn, Gerald Chukwuma and Mickalene Thomas, known for their elaborately detailed artworks embedding rhinestones, enamels, acrylics and infused collage portraiture as the narrative for current and historical African culture. Lina unearths a mostly ignored time of her parent’s birthplace, Liberia, a nation founded by America after the emancipation of African American slaves.
This intense artist delves into the nature of time and existence with her skillful, many-sided approach, weaving disparate materials and methods from current and ancient art forms. Influenced by Zen and its directed intuition, Viktor is governed by a classic color palette, integrating natural laws, hermetic philosophies, mathematic and scientific principles blurring lines between real and imagined realities. Working across several mediums, she mostly adheres to the color palette of blue, black, white and 24-karat gold gilding to create paintings, sculptural works, photography, performance works, and installations. Viktor's work fuses apparent contradictions, harmonizing the monumental and the minuscule, the decadent and the minimal, the spectacular and the invisible, enhancing the experience of the viewer.
Viktor has shown her art in a multitude of venues: The Ford Foundation, New York; Somerset House, London; New Orleans Museum of Art, Louisiana; Harvard Art Museums and The Cooper Gallery, Harvard University, Boston; and Spelman Museum of Fine Art, Spelman College, Georgia, among other institutions. She has participated in critical talks, panels and lectures at Smithsonian National Museum of African Art, Harvard University, New York University, The Institute of Contemporary Arts (London), King’s College London, The Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture, Saint Louis Art Museum, and Autograph ABP. Her integrative craftmanship unites photography, abstract painting and performance along with the ancient practice of gilding with 24-karat gold. She creates increasingly dark canvases embedded with “layers of light” in the form of symbols and intricate patterns she calls “light-works.”
The multi-disciplinary, versatile British-Liberian artist says, “Each provides a philosophical commentary through material that at once addresses the infinite and the finite, immortality and mortality, the microcosm and macrocosm, in addition to socio-political and historical preconceptions surround ‘blackness’ and its universal implications.”
Pay attention collectors - We say whatever this emerging, imaginative art luminary produces, ‘will turn to gold’.