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Maria Kreyn’s Sensual and Spiritually Driven Oil Portraits

Maria Kreyn is a Russian born, New York based artist often described as a realist, and while she has a command of painting the human figure, her exquisitely rendered oil paintings are more concerned with what we can't see. To borrow a quote from Aristotle, one of her favorite philosophers, "The aim of art is to represent not the outward appearance of things, but their inward significance." Kreyn carries this notion with her as she works, seeking to depict people in a realistic light, while capturing their essence and soul. "I make work that looks to infinity- that’s spiritually driven," she says.

Maria Kreyn is a Russian born, New York based artist often described as a realist, and while she has a command of painting the human figure, her exquisitely rendered oil paintings are more concerned with what we can’t see. To borrow a quote from Aristotle, one of her favorite philosophers, “The aim of art is to represent not the outward appearance of things, but their inward significance.” Kreyn carries this notion with her as she works, seeking to depict people in a realistic light, while capturing their essence and soul. “I make work that looks to infinity- that’s spiritually driven,” she says.

Kreyn paints both men and women in various different styles of classical portraits to impressionism, whichever best represents the image she wants to portray. In her studio, she explains, “A lot of work gets quickly hidden, to be rediscovered sometimes years later, as I’m often in transit -switching homes, studios, switching countries, switching lifestyles. Being an artist who spends hundreds of hours on pieces in a studio, and at once also a wander, vagabond, explorer seems impossible.”

She has cited artists like American Renaissance painter John Singer Sargent and Belgian painter Michaël Borremans as inspirations, though her primary inspiration comes from her own emotional experiences. Some of her portraits depict figures in acts of sex or convey their sensuality, taboo or intensely private moments that find a real emotional sincerity, where we, the audience, become the voyeur. “I want to stop time for people- to let them bask in the eternity of the present moment, and to celebrate it,” she says.

“What brings me to painting and drawing is the focused energy of a timeless story spatially wrapped into that single moment. It is about looking at the vastness of our life slowly and deeply, and connecting our heart back into our ecstatic and tragic shared experience. Beauty is here, manifest in this physical reality and space, not a platonic form for which to reach out into the metaphysical abyss. Beauty is real, that is why it matters. The heaven that we seek out there is already present in and before us.” Kreyn’s work can currently be viewed in “In The Raw: The Female Gaze on The Nude: A Group Show of 20 Female Artists” at The Untitled Space in New York.

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