Ambient Anxiety

Exhibition by Elina Yumasheva and Djuro Selec at Curious Kudu extended to 29th May 2022

Ambient Anxiety Elina Yumasheva and Djuro Selec

Click image for video introduction with Elina Yumasheva exclusively for intersilient.

Anxiety is a common problem to a lesser or greater extent for everyone, and the current climate of pandemic, war, economic uncertainty, the rapid rise in the cost of living and the strain on personal relationships are all too obvious.  Our modern way of life allows all these global problems to infiltrate our personal ones and the feeling of helplessness is overwhelming.  The increase in the use of technology and all the benefits it provides also has the opposite effect of increasing levels of anxiety.  We now know when a tsunami occurs within a few minutes, even if it is thousands of miles away, and the effects are graphically reproduced on our screens.  We now have a direct and personal avenue to such news in our mobile phones and interlaced with the beautiful interjections of personal joy, such as photos of loved ones enjoying themselves, we have become addicted to the instant response.  The bursts of dopamine that social media notification pips and squeaks elicit requires an urgency to attend and the time for thoughtful answers has contracted over time.  Whether passively or actively we are constantly subjected to information which  elevates our uncertainty, an ambient anxiety ever present and heightened by the belief that to engage more is to gain control.  We perpetuate this by referring to our technological equipment throughout the day; many people report waking to check their social media feed in the middle of the night.  The reality is an elevated feeling of doom and despair and it will take another tremendous mind-shift to alleviate these symptoms.  Acknowledging the need to limit our exposure to such influences is one way of dealing with the problem.

To represent this ambient anxiety artists Elina Yumasheva and Djuro Selec have collaborated in a joint exhibition named Ambient Anxiety at Curious Kudu in Peckham, London.  Intersilient visited the exhibition and found the bright colours a surprise as an overwhelming feeling of doom usually promotes dark and moody images associated with anxiety.  Here the colour bursts out, it is insistent, sharp and demands attention, echoing the incessant social media intrusion and unyielding newsfeed we have as a backdrop to our lives. The acid citrus, fuchsia, magenta, scarlet, turquoise, lime green, vivid and fluorescent colours assault the eye.

Elina Yumasheva
Top: Candy Fumes 1 Oil on canvas
Bottom: Candy Fumes 2 Acrylic on silk

Yumasheva’s Candy Fumes series, using one shade of shocking pink, glows in the corner of the gallery.  The eye moves immediately to the moving images on the screen, which is the digital video part of the Candy Fumes triptych.  This is a work in progress as Yumasheva explores the depths of her artwork, continually learning and adjusting with a new medium.  Her two moody monochrome interpretations How do I feel bringing children into this world? and The point of no return include a stab or a smidgeon of her favourite candy pink.

Elina Yumasheva
How do I feel about bringing children into this world?
Oil on canvas

How do I feel bringing children into this world?  Elina is obviously conflicted with this question she has posed herself and, as she says in the video clip, it is a deeply personal issue.  Dark, protective and womb-like far from hostile it evokes a safe place.  Maybe the salvation of despair lies in the future, the future generations to correct the current wrongs?  Maybe this is the one positive action possible?

Elina Yumasheva
The point of no return
Oil on canvas

The point of no return.  A statement with the depth of encroaching darkness on the lit centre from the title suggests an ever receding light, but if this was to be an expanding centre, a more hopeful message opens out.  The painting is a response to the war in Ukraine and the despair is palpable.  The inscribed white lines, perhaps scored whilst the paint was wet, that interrupt the surface, suggest movement and the sound of zinging crossfire, a hail of bullets or a fusillade of missiles.  A reminder of the brain activity involved in solving the real physical enemy, or the perceived one, the synapses firing in desperation.

Djuro Selec
Close all Windows (Doomscroll)
Spray paint on canvas

Selec has a system using grids to spray paint through, shifting them slightly to recreate the glitch we see on a screen.  The breakup of the surface of the paint echoes the pixelating as the grid replicates the matrix of transistors and capacitors, allowing or blocking the colours to show.  Ghosting the shapes and colours produces a recognisable fleeting moment on a screen captured on canvas.  Not Responding (Beachball) is an all too familiar icon whirling annoyingly in todays virtual world.  Selec’s image suggests a portal through the beachball shape, but frustratingly it looks the same world beyond.

Selec’s work investigates the glitch, something that is mysterious, unknowable and usually temporary or short-lived.  This transient fault is intrinsically difficult to troubleshoot and therefore hard to pin down in technological terms and life!  The same can be said of the effects of uncertainty and the anxiety caused by technology and consuming media.  The layers of glitch on glitch can confuse us further and thus mounts the tension and anxiety.

Elina Yumasheva and Karen Parker

It is impossible to cut ourselves off from technology as the benefits outweigh the downsides, but a healthy awareness of the associated problems is important.  This exhibition brings the issue to the fore, and debate around how to limit our life of constant notifications and alertness to everything around us is key.  Engaging with what is useful and creating healthy habits to maintain wellbeing is in itself an issue for today, post pandemic and in an era of economic uncertainty.  Take these thought provoking artists to heart, consider the issues highlighted with these colourful, arresting, incisive works and choose a healthy digital life that also promotes a healthy physical one.

Karen Parker

Introduction video to Ambient Anxiety with Elina Yumasheva here.

Ambient Anxiety exhibition has been extended to 29th May 2022

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