Biography: Artist: Irina Koulikov

Born in Kokand Uzbekistan, Irina Koulikov studied fine art at Moscow University. Before turning to the visual arts, Irina was a student of music, which she pursued at the Leningrad Conservatory, and as a choir member at the Rimsky-Korsakov Opera Theatre. Yet Irina was drawn to other art forms: she made frequent visits to the St. Petersburg Hermitage collection where the 17th-century Dutch collection was of particular interest and inspiration to the budding artist.

It was in 1993 that Irina turned her efforts to painting, in which she would find the same interest in rhythm and harmony that had first drawn her to music. In the beauty of nature, Irina saw the symphonic grandeur, which always accompanied by classical music at her easel she seeks to transmit on the canvas.

Following several trips to North America, Irina moved to Toronto to establish her artistic career. Today, her style has crystallized around a dominant influence: the 19th-century French Barbizon school. While the translucent light effects of William Turner's paintings may be traced in Irina's oeuvre, it is the 19th-century French romantic tradition that emerges as the most prominent influence for the artist. The soft brushstroke, diffuse light, and muted palette all recall Camille Corot's portraits of the Fontainebleau Forest, a site of sacred beauty which was the source of endless fascination for so many painters. As with the Barbizon painters, it is the beauty of nature that compels Irina to paint, and that she seeks to express in her tranquil landscape scenes. In particular, she is preoccupied with the work of time on natural elements, the organic decay of which she represents with the sepia effect of encaustic on her earthen palette.