Russian-born painter Nina Mikhailenko grew up among the intelligentsia and cultural elite of St. Petersburg, where she studied piano, ballet and fine art. She graduated from the renowned Mukhina Art Institute and came to the United States in 1974.
A member of Oil Painters of America, she also works in watercolors, pastels, charcoal and ink, often on location. As a plein-air artist, she has traveled the world to capture the atmosphere of her subjects, and in turn her award-winning paintings have been shown all over the United States and Europe.
Stylistically, her work has roots in a late-19th century Russian art movement called “Peredvishniki.” Literally, the Peredvishniki were itinerants or wanderers, who rebelled against the formal restrictions of the tsarist Imperial Academy of Arts and opted to show their work in new venues. They painted populist themes in an accessible style: peasants, religious celebrations, and Russian landscapes.
Nina Mikhailenko upholds this tradition of creating art that is both serious and accessible. Not surprisingly, her most successful works are commissions, which allow her to match a theme with its environment. Her murals of life on Pampas, bullfights, chefs, cigar smokers, jazz musicians, and well-fed people having fun adorn the walls of upscale steakhouses, for example, and carry no hidden moral agenda.
Her human figures, particularly, embody a depth of character and memory, in close and crowded settings energized by vigorous color, texture and motion. Nina herself is a small, delicate woman, yet some of her canvasses are enormous. They seem to reflect a heroic impulse: energetic, bright, always stretched to the limit of a realistic style.
Nina masters great quantities of energy, creating art that is densely composed, painstakingly wrought, bold and detailed.
In sum, she is an exceptional artist whose work is vibrant yet comforting, monumental yet in perfect scale with its surroundings.