Dream Museum exhibition: Garden of Human Passions opens its gates in Kyiv

19:06 Oct. 3, 2016

Garden of Human Passions opens its gates in Kyiv

(Source: Anna Azarova)

Ukrainian artist Nina Murashkina presents the series of provocative paintings ‘I Am Not Afraid'

Are you afraid to wander through an intricate maze of your inner self and face your vices, weaknesses, and bad habits? If not, then you are ready to experience an unforgettable trip around an exotic garden of human passions, voluptuous desires, basic instincts and immodest dreams.

Just one condition – no hypocrisy here. You are here not to judge but get a better understanding – of yourself, first of all…

Kyiv's Dream Museum hosts an exhibition of provocative and sensual paintings by Ukrainian artist Nina Murashkina. The title of the exposition I am not afraid is taken from the artist's own affirmation: 

"I am not afraid!

I am no longer afraid to smile.

I am no longer afraid to fall.

I have seen it all and even more.

I am no longer afraid to bite you.

I am no longer afraid to love you.

I want to hold you strongly in my arms

Even when you are not around."

"I am just tired of being afraid, I want to free your mind of the heavy burden of fear", adds Nina.


However, she did not create her paintings in response to the conflict in eastern Ukraine. Nina says she stays away from politics and focus her works on the inner life of a human being.

All passions are dormant in the heart long until an external force – the artist's brushstroke – move these passions to the surface and make you aware of them.

The artist has developed a series of mesmerising paintings that use a playing card motif –spades, hearts, diamonds, and clubs – to study rules of ‘wicked games' and expose the darker side of human emotions.

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The court double-faced cards mirror the twofold nature of humans (therefore, they may be hung upside-down or even horizontally on a wall), whereas the aces are the quintessence of vices lurking in secret corners of people's souls. The author claims that all her paintings have their own story and real-life prototypes – individuals who can even recognise themselves in Nina's artistic interpretations.

Well, let us take a closer look at the artworks.

The Two Entwined Serpents of Clubs symbolise an intimate relationship between ignorant, rude and even barbaric man and woman who are truly unaware of their ignorance. That is why they, ironically, have a halo over their heads.


In extreme states of grotesque, The Queen of Diamonds reflects ferocity of feminist attacks against the female identity. Nina believes there should be a certain difference between genders.

"It is so vital", the artist says, "that women can still preserve their femininity as their greatest asset to be cherished and admired by men."

 The artwork refers to the Biblical story of Salome who danced seductively for King Herod and asked him for St. John the Baptist's head on a plate as a reward. Variations on the theme have long been a favourite of painters all over the world.


The Belly-Slaves of Hearts, both a father and his son, epitomise the gluttony, which tears a person in half, damaging both flesh and soul.


Famous Anglo-Irish playwright Oscar Wilde once said: "The only way to get rid of a temptation is to yield to it". The Ace of Spades, imperial and gorgeous, seems to eloquently prove the quote while offering delights for those tempted by their vices. 


It takes time to study or rather ‘read' Nina's paintings as they embrace multiple elements of European art (including works by Early Renaissance artists, Francis Bacon, and Antoine Watteau), ancient Japanese erotic prints, as well as contemporary mainstream approaches and her own personal experience. 

Read more Flower exhibition in Kyiv honours prominent Ukrainians

Yet above all, her artworks, based on numerous little details and dreamy allegories on Life, are closely aligned with Hieronymus Bosch's paintings. It is not mere a chance – 2016 marks the 500th anniversary of the death of the most imaginative and enigmatic painter of his era.

Nina Murashkina (the only artist rom Ukraine) recently took part in the Earthly Delights theme exhibition launched by Vienna-based Treadwell Gallery to celebrate the inspirational art of Bosch


(photo courtesy – Nina Murashkina)

The next painting in the series, titled The Dowerless Bride of Clubs, tells a banal story of a young woman who gets pregnant by a married man. She is ‘the bride with no veil', her heart wrung with bitter anguish, pain, and grief.


The King of Clubs on a Toilet Seat symbolises carnal satiety and violence as he has a blue beard.

He is followed by the Jack of Hearts, a weed-smoker, who has lost the sense of reality. His queen is faceless because he does not care who and what she is. A white lily crowns her yellow hair, which means that once the woman tended to be innocent, yet later her heart – a flamboyant rose now – surrendered to its passions.

Read more Photo exhibition dedicated to Ukraine's Olympics winners opens in Kyiv metro

Coming last in order but nevertheless important is the Garden of Blossoming Passions that are so powerfully and vividly expressed through vibrant colours on the canvas (the back of a card).


All the artworks are equipped with magnifying glasses. They serve to emphasise the tenderest or weakest spots that make people so vulnerable to vices – a mouth, an eye, a chest adorned with a cross or an artificial funeral rose.

Moreover, all the paintings feature apparitions of hands. According to Nina, the hands are the most sensitive part of the body; therefore, they are a key element of her card-themed series. Painters say that hands can be incredibly difficult to draw.


Colours also speak for themselves – the artist uses strong, intense and lush colours (no subtle hues) with black and red prevailing in both her paintings and her outfit.

"Red symbolizes the essence of bright and shiny life, whereas as black is the opposite side of brightness, yet black has a soothing effect as this colour absorbs everything", says Nina.


Well, while roaming about this Garden of Passion, you ask yourself a crucial question – why is evil really so attractive and good so boring? A line between a vice and a virtue is so thin and easy to cross… However, perhaps, this is the only way to overcome your vices. You have to unearth them, experience them, and leave them behind. When you call an evil by its name, you are halfway there to conquer it.

Born in Donetsk, Nina Murashkina currently lives in a village near Kyiv. Member of Ukraine's Artist Union and Free Artist Union, she has an art director degree as well as diplomas in monumental painting and graphic design. 

Anna Azarova for Ukraine Today 

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