An artist has created a series of pictures to ease the January blues.
To lift spirits on what is touted as the most depressing day of the year, Ukrainian contemporary artist Zoia Skoropadenko has painted a quince in yellow, a pumpkin in orange and a spider crab in red: the colours with the greatest ‘happiness’ connotations across different cultures.
To see which of Zoia’s ‘happy colour’ paintings makes you most joyful visit: https://app.box.com/s/lv2kmlb08jn2czhws23pp25k3mkizoi9
Art’s effects on mood are well documented. Semir Zeki, Professor of Neuroesthetics at University College London, proved how blood flow in the part of the brain responsible for pleasure increased significantly when people looked at a painting they liked.
Here Zoia reveals the different meanings of the colours used:
The most visible colour of the spectrum, yellow is the colour of commerce in India, considered lucky in Thai culture and represents courage in Japan. This hue has bright, cheery connotations for many cultures due to its associations with the sun and warmth. Yellow is worn by Hindus in India to celebrate the festival of spring, and in Eastern Asia has imperial connections. On the flipside, it is also the colour associated with cowardice and betrayal for many cultures and in Germany it is yellow, and not the more commonly associated green, which represents envy. It signifies mourning for people in Egypt and Burma.
Orange is a vibrant hue, which coveys fun for many cultures. It is synonymous with the Dutch and its royalty (incidentally the Netherlands is the seventh happiest nation in the world ) and generally signifies happiness in many Eastern cultures, especially for the Japanese and Chinese, for whom it is also symbolic of courage. A saffron shade of orange is deemed both sacred and auspicious in Hinduism. In Western cultures it connotes all things autumnal and in particular harvest. Like yellow it is associated with warmth, which is again linked to happiness. However, in many Middle Eastern countries orange is connected with mourning.
Red is scientifically proven to increase the heart rate across all demographics (for positive and negative reasons). It is a particularly important colour in many Asian cultures where it symbolises good luck, joy, prosperity and happiness. It is associated with celebration and longevity, and so it is often the colour of choice for brides in South and East Asia. It is also symbolic of luck and good fortune in Egypt and Iran.
Conversely in South Africa and the Ivory Coast red is associated with mourning.
“The mood enhancing properties of colour are well known, but it’s also noted that colour is bound in cultural connotation,” said Zoia Skoropadenko. “The three colours I’ve used in the paintings should trigger feelings of happiness across the broadest range of people.”
Notes to editors
About the artist
Zoïa Skoropadenko was born in the Ukraine and has been making art for as long as she can remember.
From the age of five Zoia was tutored by Ukrainian national artist Grigory Sinitsa.
She studied at the National Art School and at the Institute of Fine Arts when the fall of the Soviet Union made it impossible for anyone without money to get an art education.
Zoia continued her education in Lviv National University. As a leading student journalist with a network or international journalist friends she was unceremoniously kicked out of the University for being a spy. As the owner of a PC and modem how could she not be funded by the CIA?
She later hitchhiked around Europe; often sleeping with the homeless and after a long adventure “down and out in Europe” ended up in Monaco and found herself a job.
If you are not the daughter of an oligarch or a trained and funded CIA operative it isn’t easy for a young artist to make ends meet in Monaco. However, the world’s most glamorous playground needs multi-lingual translation. So Zoia, who speaks eight languages, found herself working in the art scene and at the same time supporting herself translating.
While helping yacht brokers sell to enterprising East Europeans who had got rich quick she also helped Interpol arrest and interrogate enterprising East European’s who were hoping to get rich quick.
Meanwhile she participated in the artistic life of the Cote D’Azur.
Along the way she met such prominent contemporary artists such as Arman (Nouveau réalisme), Ernst Fuchs (Fantastic Realism), Sosno, Emma de Sigaldi, Folon and Robert Rauschenberg and became a member of the National Art Committee and ADAGP. She also illustrated a book and exhibited.
In 2008 during the economic crisis, times became very tough and to make ends meet, Zoia was reduced to buying the cheapest food from the market and docks at the end of the day.
One morning, a kindly local fisherman gave her a bag of octopuses for lunch. She wanted to eat them, but she had an idea that made her hungrier to create than to fill her stomach.
The idea was to use the octopuses to create a sculpture.
And so the kind gift of food became the TORSO series. Things began to look up.
Four years later she had her first show of TORSO in London.
The series was mentioned in influential art magazines such as Creative Review and things began to take off.
In 2010 she opened her personal exhibition space in Palais de La Scala in Monaco called “La Vitrine.”
In 2011, the Monaco government granted her the official status of an Artist-Painter of Monaco.
She exhibits regularly; her work has hung in Monaco, London, Tokyo, Paris and Brussels and her exhibitions have been held at the Council of Europe in Strasbourg, in Fukushima and Osaka, Japan and in China.