Olea Nova is a visual artist and composer. In her practice she engages with diverse artistic strategies, mediums and techniques - oil painting on canvas, drawing, object making, video and sound. To maintain a constant tension within these approaches Olea Nova combines and mixes strategies and techniques from different art forms.


For Olea Nova, composing paintings and music are two parallel processes where articulation of felt space is one of the important aspects. She embraces dissonance and polyphony and focuses on vectors of movement and speed of sounds that are tactile and spacious through air and time. In her compositional processes she relies on the simple idea of arranging various sound materials within a larger compositional form that is changing over time. There is no narrative content in her work. By exploring her sense of non-objective form Olea Nova dematerializes objects and creates felt space that is non-referential.


As her first formal artistic practice Olea Nova studied classical piano and she wanted to learn how to paint to be able to create a viewer experience by looking at a flat surface. Later, at the University of Humanities and Social Sciences in St. Petersburg, Russia Olea Nova studied the Theory and History of Culture. To graduate she wrote her thesis on games of chance. In addition to historical and cultural aspects of gambling she was interested in philosophical and psychological aspects of games and addiction, chance and premeditation.


From the very beginning, Olea Nova’s art making was influenced by Baroque sensibility, 20th century abstraction, expressionist gestures and surrealist methodology. As a result she uses dramatic and affective language, combines various perceptual space indicators, contrasts form and texture.


Olea Nova engaged in a dialog with the history of abstraction with her diagrammatic work depicting commercial, industrial and warehouse spaces, parking lots and shopping plazas as conceptual (computerized) diagrams reminding one of a digital space. She chose this mode because it seems to be a relevant form of representation in everyday computerized reality.


This diagrammatic work originated with Olea Nova’s interest in the life of a city and noticing how people’s movement through a city is controlled. The point of view of each piece was dictated by the space itself and relied on memory of direct experience of being in that space whether driving in a car or from navigating through the aisles of the warehouse shopping spaces.


To create this work Olea Nova used paper, canvas, acrylic paint, spray paint, and graphite. She often introduced mechanical means, such as spraying or rolling substances onto the surfaces. She considered that work, made at a distance from a surface, also mimics how urban environments are now made. First, the pattern is drawn on computer, then the plan is printed and finally the work is executed by mechanical means, removed from immediate human contact.


After making conceptual diagrammatic work Olea Nova decided to dissolve geometric structures and started working with improvisational, chance, and random processes. Optical qualities of painted surfaces, dynamism and impression of spontaneity became essential in the final work. Improvised surfaces became facts of completed painterly events such as mark making and body movements. Painting became a synthesis of time, process and life of materials.


Through form Olea Nova strives for a painting to give a sense of contemporaneity. Her work advances in the direction of increased scale, integration of stronger illusionistic effects and dynamism. She focuses on the human perception through the interaction of lines, sounds and color, while simultaneously keeping to the improvisational mode of working and leaving the content open for multiple cultural readings.


When working with video Olea Nova often mixes fictional and documentary narratives. For example, in her film ‘Go I know Not Where and Bring Back I Don’t Know What’ (2018) Olea Nova explores a journey and quest implied by the title using documentary footage and multiple narrative layers. The narrative structure of the film relies on research and study of mythopoetics, the structure of fables, folkloristics, psychological interpretations of fairy tales and morphology of folk tales. Materials for the film contain historical documentaries and videos shot in Russia, England, France, Mexico and United States.


Olea Nova was born in Leningrad, Russia. She is a graduate of the University of Humanities and Social Sciences in St. Petersburg, Russia and the School of the Art Institute of Chicago. Olea Nova lives and works in Chicago.



2018   Mana Professional: Miami Residency 2018, Mana Contemporary Miami, Miami, FL http://www.manacontemporarychicago.com/miamiresidency/

2018   Angie Glaser. Interview. “Piercing Conflict” Captures The Pain and Disruption of Migraine. https://migraineagain.com/disruption-of-migraine-piercing-conflict/

2017   Open Studios, Displaying new work (paintings and sound), Mana Contemporary Chicago, Chicago, IL

2016   Nature, Performing “Dystopia,” Slate Arts and Performance, Chicago, IL https://youtu.be/xIPbZ4edC7E

2015   Group Show Artists at Mana Contemporary Jan. 1st – Dec. 31st 2015, https://www.artsy.net/artist/olea-nova

2014   Olea Nova – Spontaneous Dialogue | The COMP Magazine

2013   MoMA PopRally, Abstract Currents: An Interactive Video Event in conjunction with the exhibitions Inventing Abstraction, 1910–1925, New York, NY https://vimeo.com/62528658

International Women Associates (IWA), Chicago, IL. Presentation: “Russian Icon Painting Revisited.” History of Russian painting from medieval icon to abstraction. March 2013 http://novamediaweb.com/?p=293
2010   "Summer Sounds: One Minute Film Festival," Screening video: "The New Beginning", The Art Institute of Chicago, Modern Wing, Chicago, IL
Coalesse, Merchandise Mart, Chicago, IL NeoCon 2010
2003   National Women’s Studies Association (NWSA) 24th Annual Conference, New Orleans, Louisiana. Session title: Art as Activism in Women’s Studies. Presenting “Silent Witness Project” completed at the University of Wisconsin, La Crosse. June 2003

Art & Pain: Migraine, The Tapestry magazine, October 2003
2002   "Piercing Conflict," solo exhibition at the Chicago School of Professional Psychology, Chicago, IL http://migraineartwork.com/

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