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Yelena Popova ~ Never Ending nor Beginning

Wed 19 Aug 2015 – Sun 06 Sep 2015 Picnic Picnic

Picnic Picnic is pleased to present a solo exhibition of recent works by Yelena Popova, join us for the preview on Wednesday 19 August from 6pm.

Never Ending nor Beginning describes a circle. A shape whose form is so perfect that it is unpunctuated by edges, corners or faces and is simply a singular point extended in perpetuity.

Round canvasses are stacked, performing carefully balanced tableaux that capture a singular moment like a memory. Delicate layers of translucent colour build up, recording the artist’s fleeting gestures long after they are gone.

So regularly repeated is the action of her drawing a circle, that it becomes delivered with machine-like precision, producing an almost seamless curve in every iteration. The act of creating the curve is physical as Popova arches over the canvas in a well-rehearsed sequence that evokes the choreography of a machine on the production line. The artist’s perpetual action becomes a mechanised abstract expressionism, seeking pure form however, precise as these swooping curves become, they always allude to something more bodily; the temporality of human-touch cannot be abstracted.

Popova’s video About 5 Minutes Remaining tells the story of the Time Sweepers, unseen workers that clear up time that is lost and wasted in our everyday lives. This modern fable presents time as a commodity that can be collected, transported and recycled, reflecting on cognitive labour and productivity within a neo-liberalist world. The piece closes with a shimmering diamond rotating endlessly in the background of WeTransfer; an ultimate commodity spinning ad infinitum.

Back in the studio, the same question of productive time revolves around artist labour - never ending nor beginning; making, writing, editing, online surfing, day dreaming and drawing a perfect circle.


Yelena Popova (b. 1978, Urals, Russia) graduated from MA Painting at the Royal College of Art in 2011; she lives and works in Nottingham. In 2014 Popova was shortlisted for the Arts Foundation Award in Painting and was included in ‘100 Painters of Tomorrow’ published by Thames and Hudson. Popova’s practice negotiates physical, spatial and economical articulations of painting today. Popova’s work is in Arts Council England’s Permanent Collection, Royal College of Art Collection, Saatchi Collection, Zabludowicz Collection, Nottingham Castle Collection and in various private collections.