2017-12-01 / Arts & Entertainment

Artist SPOTLIGHT: Viktorija Bulava: A figurative artist shaped by her rich environment

By Kathy O’Flinn

“Koi Kettle,” mixed media, 24” x 36” “Koi Kettle,” mixed media, 24” x 36” Riga, Latvia was once called Little Paris – a cosmopolitan city on the Baltic and a cultural center with a wealthy past. Riga is known for its richly decorated Art Nouveau architecture, colorful stained glass and sculptures. This is where artist Viktorija Bulava grew up.

Surrounded by such treasures and recognized for her talent at a young age, Bulava started her art training at age 12. “I was a Soviet kid so your whole training is based on your eventually becoming a professional artist,” she said. It was a profession that promised a comfortable lifestyle, with the op­portunity to travel, when no one else could, and assured government commissions. “Everyone wanted their kids to become artists,” said Bulava. However, competition was keen, she explained.

She credits her skills to her years at the Latvian Art Academy, to which students came from all over the Soviet Union. “We had Armenians, Germans, Russians because we had a very strong traditional training,” said Bulava. The combined influ­ences of Russian realism and Western European art provided inspira­tion for Bulava.

Victorija Bulava at the piano she embellished for the Sarasota Keys Piano Project. Victorija Bulava at the piano she embellished for the Sarasota Keys Piano Project. “Art Nouveau is kind of in my blood,” she said. She credits Alphonse Mucha, the Czech Art Nouveau painter and decorative artist, for her four seasons-themed figurative paintings – a subject of Mucha’s as well. Think Gustav Klimt and his allegory paintings with decorative backgrounds.

While her first love is figurative drawing and her training gives her the freedom to depict the human figure in any angle, Bulava enjoys giving her work a contemporary look, perhaps with a musical back­ground, or using different techniques and materials and gold leaf.

And she is not afraid to step out of the box. Recently, this Sarasota resident participated in the Sarasota Keys Piano Project where old pianos are given new lives by artists and returned to the streets down­town for passersby to play. Bulava’s elaborate decoupage piano design included gold leaf figures in motion. “ I participated because I thought it was an interesting project,” she said. “I pretty much do it all. I don’t have any barriers,” she said.

After moving to Southwest Florida, she discovered its natural beauty. Now when she is painting flowering flamboyant trees, Naples beaches, or local architecture, her paintings have the gracefulness of line and movement that she does so well in her figurative work.

At one show she said she received the best compliment: “An admirer said it looks like my paintings are alive.”

Today, her mixed media paintings are in noted private collections throughout the U.S. and Europe. To see more of her work visit eastwest­fineart.com or stop by the gallery at 9115 Strada Place No. 5130, in the Mercato, Naples.

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