Does visual art affect us? Is one of the major responsibilities of artists to make people feel the art emotionally and physically? Can art motivate people to turn feeling into doing? To address these questions, we spoke with art curator Yulia Chmelenko.

Let’s examine these questions taking as an example Cristina Balan’s art works, a Moldova-based abstract artist (born in 1977). Her abstract paintings are highly appreciated by the art community and the public. Cristina’s art works are currently featured by galleries from NYC, Tokyo, and Barcelona.

What makes her artworks stand out?

Infinito, 2022. Author: Cristina Balan in collabortaion with Yurii Palcov, an artist who created the butterfly. Image courtesy of the artist

Cristina Balan believes that art is a visual rotation of pure energy. Thus, she depicts the spirit, while lots of artists depict the form. She accepts the object as is, and presents it for what it is, not what the artist thinks it means. As Yulia Chmekenko points out, Cristina is not interested in a photographic representation of an object but in interpreting its spirits. Her art is cosmocentric, it sees everything as an integral part of the Universe.

The world consists of energy and matter. The energy has its own image, it can be felt, but is rather hard to depict. Such as the state of love, happiness, pain… we use additional images for it. Abstraction is not about a certain image. When we need to depict an apple instead of a green apple with a branch, we feel the taste and smell of the object. 

The aim of Cristina is to depict the essence, the eternal qualities of the object, which is in itself a work of natural art, before the artist arrives on the scene. She does not try to create the illusion of reality. She believes that the real world is in human soul, everything material has the value that we endow it with. That is why, Yulia Chmelenko says, the language of abstraction is not simple, but, on the contrary, is disproportionately complex.

Through the Looking Glass, Cristina Balan, 2020. Image courtesy of the artist

Yulia believes that most of us know the feeling of being moved by a work of art. When we are touched, we are moved; we are transported to a new place that is, nevertheless, strongly rooted in a physical experience, in our bodies. Yulia Chmelenko suggests we become aware of a feeling that may not be unfamiliar to us, but which we did not actively focus on before. This transformative experience is what art is constantly seeking.

Transition, Cristina Balan, 2022. Image courtesy of the artist

Cristina generates soulful paintings. She believes that art means beauty, harmony, and depth. It uplifts humanity and that is her contribution to the world. She aspires to make the invisible visible, to open the human heart, to awaken feelings deep inside all of us.

Withought a doubt, Yulia summarizes, visual arts affect us, even if we do not notice it. And through this, we influence the world.

YULIA CHMELENKO is an art curator with over 12 years of experience in galleries and museums. After receiving degrees from Saint Petersburg State University and University of Brirmingham, Yulia focused on organization of the independent artists’ exhibition projects. In 2011 Yulia moved to the USA, where she joined the Swarm Gallery, Chicago. After a few years, as part of her curator’s practice, she cooperated with French galleries based in Tangier, Morocco (Galerie Delacroix, La Galerie Volubilis, Galerie CONIL). Her studies of Assyriology in the University of Birmingham exposed her that many of the genres and techniques that we associate with art and the study of art today were developed in Mesopotamian antiquity. She observed that ancient Mesopotamia has sparked the imagination of artists for a very long time. Thus, in her curator’s work she combines assyriology, contemporary art and advanced exhibition technologies.