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Yuliya Martynova’s Watercolour World

Posted in In the Studio by Aimee Morris on 20th November 2017

Yuliya Martynova is a woman of many talents. The Kazakhstan born artist has worked in Law, Wealth Management and Engineering. She has multiple law degrees, plus an MBA to boot. In 2015 Yuliya took the plunge and decided to make art her career. Now she works between studios in Moscow and London and exhibits her watercolours at art fairs across the UK. Her works are on display in numerous corporate offices and they’ve also appeared on the big screen, in Doctor Strange and in an episode of US Drama Scandal.


You've had an interesting career journey through Law, Finance and Engineering. What brought you back to art?

I was always painting in the background, even though I never considered art as a viable career option. I lacked faith that it could be more than a hobby. But then the right moment came, and it was now or never. I gave myself a year to try make my art successful. Within a couple of months people were buying my art and curators were giving me coverage. Art became my career, not just something I was good at.



What is the inspiration behind your paper plane and boat works?

These are two signature collections that I run in parallel, and I came up with them in completely different ways.

Boats are easy. My partner is a sailor from Devon. He kept asking me to paint a boat-themed artwork for his father's house, so one day I accidentally came up with a two-stroke boat illustration - shadow and hull. And the idea took off. It was so simple, yet impactful. It was a lightbulb moment.


Blue Bay Limni by Yuliya Martynova

The idea behind my paper planes is a long story. But the inspiration came from seeing an installation by austrian artist Astrid Bin - a cloud of paper planes suspended from the ceiling. The geometry seemed aesthetically perfect, and I immediately wanted to put that image to paper.


Do you have a favourite or most meaningful work?

I do, and it’s being sold to Texan collector as we speak. It's ‘Vermilion Sky’, my very first painting in red. I was so afraid of red, but the painting completely changed my mind about this colour. I think this painting is the best-balanced and most beautiful creation of mine to date.

Migration | Vermilio Sky by Yuliya Martynova


What’s your favourite inspirational quote?

“When nothing goes right, go left.”  

I have it printed on my certificates of authenticity. It's a humorous and inspiring play on words, which is also fundamentally the narrative of my paper plane collections. Like a paper plane whose flight path is never straight, embrace uncertainty - just go with it. Try see things from a different angle.


What are your aspirations for the future?

My artwork is doing well online and I’ve had 2 very successful art fairs on year three of my journey as an artist. The level up would be to participate in more fairs. I think there’s a clear pattern developing in the industry - people like to go see lots of artist under one roof.


Browse Yuliya's Works >>



5 Women Igniting Contemporary African Art

Posted in Inside Scoop by Aimee Morris on 14th November 2017

Touria El Glaoui has been named by Forbes as one of the 100 most powerful women in Africa, and by New African as one of the most influential Africans in business. She is the Founding Director of 1:54 Contemporary African Art Fair, which takes place in London, New York and Marrakech every year. Touria has spoken widely on contemporary African art and women in leadership around the world. Who better to have on our Rise Art Prize panel for Africa & the Middle East? Here are 3 things you didn’t know about Touria:


Photo (c) Victoria-Birkinshaw


What do you love about art?  

Art makes you feel it all. It’s like my pilates class, it makes me bend and stretch in all directions both physically and mentally, but once I’m done I feel anew.


Ed Cross Fine Art Gallery at 1.54 Contemporary African Art Fair, Somerset House, London.

Photo © Katrina Sorrentino (Katrina Lillian)


Artwork that first blew your mind?  

Number one will always be the work of my artist father. Then the paintings and drawings that depict Moroccan life and culture by Matisse.


Les feux du Quadrige by Hassan El Glaoui


What’s your Favourite art ‘-ism’?

Feminism and Womanism. These movements have inspired, and continue to inspire, some badass work by female artists.


Sitor Senghor Gallery at 1.54 Contemporary African Art Fair, Somerset House, London.

Photo © Katrina Sorrentino (Katrina Lillian)


Hopskipping from this badass pioneer of African art (who is just about to get stuck into the judging process), we bring you 4 female South African artists who have caught our eye over the course of the Rise Art submissions.



Kirsten’s domestic scenes have an uncanny, slightly off-key, feel to them. Her deep colours and strong lines transform snapshots of ordinary domestic life into semi-sinister scenes. Not only is her subject matter striking, but her quirky paintings are also technically accomplished.


Pool Party by Kirsten Lilford


2. Michaela Rinaldi

Michaela paints abstracted figurative works that feature acidic colours and elongated figures. She works charcoal, ink, pastel and gold leaf into her paintings to create rich, layered imagery. Michaela’s intriguing pieces have a meditative quality to them that inspires contemplation.


Shadow Dancing by Michaela Rinaldi



Joanne paints women in misty, ethereal settings. The artist, who has a background in Sculpture, finds the curves and form of the female torso fascinating. But it’s not just the physical beauty of women Joanne aims to depict; she also tries to capture the shifting moods and challenges of being a woman.


Haute Couture 2 by Joanne McGilvray


4. Danielle Hewlett

Danielle paints expressive portraits that, rather than offer realistic depictions of her subjects, reimagine their energy in paint. She lives by Oscar Wilde’s saying, that ““no great artist ever sees things as they really are. If he did, he would cease to be an artist”. Danielle’s unique style is alluring; she captures not just the outward appearance of her sitters, but also something closer to their interior state.


Contagonist by Danielle Hewlett


Check out our latest RIse Art Prize news >>



Leila Fanner's African Dream(scape)

Posted in In the Studio by Aimee Morris on 10th November 2017

Leila Fanner's metaphysical paintings are interwoven with dreams and personal dream symbols. The South African artist captures on her canvases a spiritual view of the African environs and characters that surround her in the picturesque Riebeek Valley, 75km north-east of Cape Town. Leila's paintings are held in private collections in South Africa, Germany, France, Kenya, the UK and the US. Her work has also been featured in British Vogue Gallery. We can't wait to learn more about this standout Rise Art Prize applicant. 



When did you know you wanted to become an artist?

When I was very young, around 4 yrs old, I was an artist. During my school years I became fearful of struggling to make ends meet  - like my artist mother. So I ran away from my truth and into the corporate world for a while.


Awake in a Dream by Leila Fanner


Tell us a bit about your creative process.

It starts with a vision accompanied by an emotion. I can't really create without those two active within me. With my abstracts, I start with layers of colour: I draw some elements, create texture and finally make marks and get into the details.



You have interesting heritage, having been born in California to South African and African American parents. How does your background come into your work?

I have moved house around 38 times in my 48 yrs. I think the emphasis I tend to make on a dreamlike safe haven - a peaceful garden world where nature dominates, is my way of expressing a desire to find my true home - a place to feel completely accepted and at peace.


Kinds Daughter and the Saddle Bills by Leila Fanner


Depicting a central black figure that is more of a being (a space), rather than a human, is how I explore the notion that being is more important than having - which is something you can’t help learning when you never have a sense of home or roots.


Faith by Leila Fanner 


What do you love about your studio space?

It has a gorgeous view of the Drakenstein Mountains. There are French doors that let lots of light in, and it's in a peaceful little village on a quiet untarred road. I am truly blessed to have it all to myself.



Do you have a favourite or most meaningful work?

At the moment it’s the series At The Table that I’ve had to put on hold, as I’m in the middle of moving to my new studio. I have ideas continuously percolating up waiting to have life breathed into them - and I'm toying with sculpture ideas as well. Exciting.


 Eve Black Series II by Leila Fanner


What’s your favourite inspirational quote?

I have a new one every few weeks! Right now it’s: "The primary cause of unhappiness is never the situation but your thoughts about it." (Eckhart Tolle)


Watering the Garden by Leila Fanner


What are your aspirations for the future?

I am focusing on being more fully present here and now to the beauty of this moment - no matter what it brings. The future is made up of all the 'now's I have lived before, so this is the only time and the only way I can affect the future.


Browse Leila's Works >>


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