Starkova’s gift to her viewers is the moment in time she allows us, standing and viewing her artwork in the same stillness, admiration and intensity that she captures in her subjects.
Moscow born artist Irina Starkova currently resides between London and Monaco. From an early age, she became interested in photography. Her oil on canvas work is largely figurative, but her recent series have taken on a more Pop-Art edge, seeing her experiment with spray painting techniques.
Starkova studied painting at the Andriyaka Art School in Moscow and worked with the Russian artist Boris Parkhunov. In 2015, she selected for the Winsor & Newton Painting Prize for her self-portrait in oil. Starkova started exhibiting her work in 2013, and has since taken part in the Christie’s Auction in Port of Monaco and exhibited in several galleries in London. For her most recent solo exhibition in April 2016, entitled ‘Still Lives’ at London’s Erarta Galleries, Starkova created a series of detailed oil paintings which fuse her love of portrait painting and nature, as well as a new selection of gicl.e prints. She incorporated taxidermy elements into her show through several ‘bug boxes’. Drawing on literary inspiration from the greats Nabokov and Bulgakov, the exhibition is the culmination of months of intricate study of birds and insects at the Natural History Museum and the Institute of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine in London.
Starkova captures moments in artwork in a way usually only the most skillful of photographers can. Her inanimate forms, frozen and quiet, deliver timelessness and serenity. Alive, yet dead, these forms offer momentary beauty. “Having spent the summer analysing, drawing and painting the creatures I had been allowed to examine, I decided to put them at the centre of the project. It looks at how insects and birds have shaped the human world insofar as we constantly copy and borrow their forms, their colours, textures and adapt them for our use,” shares Starkova. "I also wanted to show how we use the animal kingdom to express human emotion... Chickens have been molded into poses to express basic human desires and the eagle with the halo makes a saint out of a martyr - showing how the human world idolises the dead. The entomological boxes explore how insects have literally shaped (consciously or unconsciously) household objects, symbols (letters, signs) that we use in everyday life".
Starkova is visibly inspired by both objects and film. She has always loved to collect things, from insects such as butterflies and beetles as a child, to stamps, old Soviet postcards, old film cameras, Soviet magazines and old photographs, storing them without purpose initially but eventually categorising them. Her love for film photography, processing and developing the photographs forces her to think about the subject matter, composition and the light. This attention and focus is clear in her artwork. Her favourite artists, Louise Bourgeois, Chuck Close, Lucian Freud, Grayson Perry, also whisper their voices throughout her creations.