Olga Volgina - August 24, 2021
One of Olga Volgina’s more recent works that she’s shared on social media (as she’s a prolific artist) is a work that resonates in both an immediate and historical manner. Any (well made and meaningful) rendering of children has this power. Volgina’s children evoke a multiplicity of intersecting references: Goya’s portrait of Manuel Osorio Manrique de Zúñiga, who looks doll – like and innocent until a closer examination reveals several cats waiting to devour his pet bird, to the child’s indifference, is one. Delving even deeper into the worn faces and unflinching gaze of the children, I’m also reminded of Robertson Davies’ book World of Wonders. In response to one character relating his harsh yet essential childhood experiences, another defers that though he has experience “exploring evil” through his films, the evil of children is something that requires courage he lacks….
Volgina’s children must also bring to mind Ignorance and Want, from Dickens’ A Christmas Carol, and in that instance offer a more disturbing consideration of how a child is perhaps a larger reflection (or repository) for the world in which they live. Volgina commented that when this work – titled The Mark – was finished, “now I look at them and they look at me”, but what they see, or what they think, is opaque to us. We can guess; but the children in The Mark are silent and staring, offering no answers. Perhaps they’re indifferent to us, perhaps demanding, or perhaps simply exhausted and bruised.
Volgina lives and works in St. Petersburg, Russia. Her digital portraits, as she describes them, are both a bit unsettling and insightful. This brings to mind how sitting for some artists requires a degree of courage (never mind being nude but what of the deeper self that the artist might excavate and present for the world to see?).