Lyuba Titovets: Year of the Snake

Along with the winter holiday celebrations of her Russian homeland and adopted American culture, Lyuba Titovets will enjoy the festivities of the Chinese New Year to welcome 2001, the Year of the Snake. Under the Chinese calendar, Lyuba was born in 1965, a diplomatic snake – charming, intellectual, and philosophical. So, she says, “2001 is my year”, and approaches it with much anticipation and her ever optimistic spirit.

On February 2, Lyuba will christen “her year” with the opening of a one-woman show here at the Gallery Shoal Creek. “The work is all about people and their surroundings”, says Lyuba. In addition to the figurative work for which she is known – women in conversation, children playing, the folk tale imagery of her homeland – the show will feature a series of vibrant still life paintings with rich color and harmony.

“My figurative works are like lullabies. I start and make up the whole story , not worrying about the truth in it. [These] stories are very much influenced by my own life experiences and admiration for Middle Ages artists such as Bruguel, Bosch and Memling. Working from nature [as in the still lifes], helps me create more complicated harmony. This work is like my school; it is how I [explore] my sense of color and my independence. It is me [who I am] without any extra interpretation or clues.”

“My stories are always with me, but I am saying them a little bit differently. In my mind, they are becoming more abstract and more complicated. I am still reaching out. There is no constant place on the stairs [of artistic expression] which is really more like a ladder to climb.”

And climb she has – since Lyuba and her husband Sasha [Aleksander] arrived in the United States in 1992. Lyuba, like Sasha, has found her place in the realm of representational or traditional art. Neither dreamed they would be able to pursue a full time career in fine art. Doing so is, for the Titovets, living a dream.

“America is a great country,” says Lyuba, “where as an artist you can be considered seriously the way it was in 16th and 17th century Italy or in France in newer times. There are some obvious disadvantages to being a young country, but there are great opportunities for everyone. It was a great present for me to have come to the U.S. Here, I paint every day… in the cozy corner of our light, open studio; in Russia, I would never be able to do that.”

Lyuba’s artistic training began at age five in St. Petersburg, and she has been drawing and painting ever since. By age seven, she was selected for the Children’s Art Club in Leningrad, now St. Petersburg. She studied at the Art School for Children and had the opportunity to study with numerous instructors through the Guild of USSR Artists as a youth whose instinctive talent was quite evident. She went on to the State University in St. Petersburg where she received a BA and MFA in the College of Fine Arts and met her Siberian born husband.

With invitations to national and international juried exhibitions and numerous group and solo shows in galleries throughout the western US, Lyuba’s career has soared. On a personal note, life in El Paso has been good for the optimistic St. Petersburg lass and her husband. The community embraced the Russian family with warmth and encouragement, and in 1999, they both became US citizens; their American-born daughters are now age eight and four; and this past summer they moved into a new home with a spacious, light-filled studio. For Lyuba, it is a fairy tale come true and all the more reason to celebrate “her year”… the Year of the Snake, 2001.

Spring 2001