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Faculty of Art

Drawing and Painting

Meet the Artist



Visual Artist

“My work has always been inspired by nature because I appreciate its beauty and value its therapeutic qualities. However, when I think of paintings of nature, and the Canadian landscape tradition in particular, I picture something that has been viewed through a colonial lens with no inclusion of ethnic groups. Therefore, I feel compelled to bring elements of my cultural identity into my nature inspired paintings. I do this by incorporating cut-outs of traditional handwoven rugs, as my place of origin, Azerbaijan, is one of major weaving centers in the Caucasus region. As someone who comes from land that, over its long history, has been conquered by formidable empires (such as the Greek, the Ottoman, the Mongol, the Persian, and the Soviet empires), and who now lives on this land we call Canada, which is also a taken land, I think a lot about land, place, culture, identity and belonging, as I try to understand where and how I fit in. And that is what I try to communicate in my work. Using culturally significant to me elements in my landscape inspired work also challenges the cliched and outdated idea of what landscape painting is - it is an attempt to decolonize our expectations. I use natural materials, such as beeswax and charcoal, to create my memory-based compositions on found, repurposed or otherwise sustainable surfaces, and have the textile pieces frame or flow through the work. I purposely choose the border parts of the rug cut-outs, to stand as metaphors for international or political borders, which divide land and people. The textile also adds a three-dimensional element to the work, pushes off the boundaries of the surface and into the viewer’s space. The beeswax serves as a painting medium but is also the substance that binds the textiles onto the surface, with some of the threads embedded in the wax. This conveys the intertwining of nature and culture and unifies the flat and dimensional elements of the work. Bringing my cultural background into my nature-inspired compositions not only provides a glimpse into the landscape from a diasporic viewpoint but also speaks of a split between two cultures and addresses issues of belonging.”

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Yana was born in Baku, Azerbaijan and has had a passion for art since a young age. Based in Toronto, Ontario, where she has called her home for over two decades, she is an interdisciplinary artist working primarily in oil, textile and encaustic media. Her work investigates questions of culture, identity and belonging. The artist uses elements of cultural significance, such as handwoven rugs, to frame her nature inspired paintings. The cut-outs of the textile she uses also stand as metaphors for political borders that divide land and people. Her works provide a glimpse into landscape from a diasporic viewpoint and challenge the cliched idea of what landscape painting is.
OCAD U - Faculty of Art
Drawing and Painting
Major In progress, 2023

Encaustic painting Traditional Azerbaijani textiles Oil painting Weaving Textile Acrylic Painting Landscape Painting Installation Materials Multidisciplinary

2023, GradEx 108
OCAD University, Toronto
2023, Hello Yellow
Leslie Grove Gallery, Toronto
2023, Deep Down My Heart Sings
OCAD University
2022, Abstract Group Exhibition
OCAD University, Toronto
2019, Snow Flakes
Yellow House Gallery, Toronto
2018, Group Show
Visions Gallery, Toronto
2018, Riverdale ArtWalk
Jimmie Simpson Park, Toronto
2018, Winter Fair
Queen Gallery, Toronto
2018, ArtWalk in the Square
Shops at Don Mills, Toronto