In ancient mythology, the god Saturn turned on his father and castrated him, throwing his dismembered organs into the sea and causing the ocean to foam up. From the boiling water emerged a fully formed Venus, the goddess of love and beauty. It was this legend that inspired British painter Flora Yukhnovich’s latest body of work, part of a new solo exhibition at London’s Victoria Miro gallery next week. “I was immediately drawn to the idea of her body being made of water,” says the artist of her blurred, abstract paintings, often based on historical compositions. “This fluidity of form feels like a very painterly concept to me, a bit like creating seemingly solid figures out of wet paint.”

Crème de la Mer, 2022, by Flora Yukhnovich
Crème de la Mer, 2022, by Flora Yukhnovich © Flora Yukhnovich, courtesy the artist and Victoria Miro
Powser Puff, 2022
Powder Puff, 2022 © Flora Yukhnovich, courtesy the artist and Victoria Miro

Yukhnovich looked to depictions of Venus from across the cultural canon, including Rubens’ The Feast of Venus, Federico Fellini’s La Dolce Vita and the rapper-singer Doja Cat, known for her pastel-pink aesthetic – Yukhnovich says she “found [her] tonally helpful – in that hamming up kitschy elements offered a way to navigate the potential ‘cringey-ness’ of making work about Venus”.

Maybe She’s Born With It, 2022
Maybe She’s Born With It, 2022 © Flora Yukhnovich, courtesy the artist and Victoria Miro
Bombshell, 2021
Bombshell, 2021 © Flora Yukhnovich, courtesy the artist and Victoria Miro

There are, she adds, so many iterations of the goddess, “and all are revealing about how the society of the time understands beauty and power, particularly in relation to women and their bodies.”

Flora Yukhnovich is at Victoria Miro, London, from 1 to 26 March

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