Russian artist MILANI (Lioudmila Kozko) is fascinated by the phenomenon of celebrity and inspired by the pop vernacular of commercial photography. She knows how to excel in crafting exquisite detail and attaining intricate perfection, continuing a long tradition Eastern European craftsmanship and with a background in the fashion industry. Milani's works are keen on the decorative aspect, echoing an ornamental take on patterns that is reminiscent of Russian embroidery and tapestry. Beyond the surface, however, the classically trained artist's obsessive mosaic-like technique is juxtaposed to her all-American approach and thematic: Hollywood, mass consumption and social idolatry.
Milani's bejeweled "paintings" defy traditional methods of painting and bi-dimensionality by creating depth through the meticulous placement of different size and color crystal diamonds. The visually striking pieces MILANI has created from the use of Swarovski crystals exalt the allure of her subjects by using a material that is in itself synonymous with glitz. Their "beautification" is what Milani is after, an exaltation of glamour and charme.
Milani (born in 1958 in the USSR) is inspired by celebrity portrait photography and compelled to comment on questions of cultural appropriation and authenticity. Marilyn Monroe, Brigitte Bardot, Audrey Hepburn and other female figures permeating contemporary glam culture are eternalized in sheer sheen. But at the same time there is an underscore of sadness to these figures, the humanity of the iconic figures is shadowed by the glitz of the shining crystals.
The artist is further developing a series of all-time celebrity images that will study social constructions, projections of celebrity behavior and image mass-consumption of "stars."
Milani's work has been extensively collected for the past ten years at a private level, she has also collaborated with designer brands like bebe, Tommy Hilfiger and Victoria's Secret.
November 9th, 2011
The brilliant art of Milani
To créate a direct and simple oeuvre in which beauty is in itself valued is the principle behind Lioudmila Kozko's brilliant art. For the past 20 years, the artist -who signs as Milani- has dedicated to perfecting her micro-mosaic technic with Swarovski crystals applied to canvas. "It is an art that is inspired in the Eastern European traditional craftsmanship. I am inspired by the art of tapestry and Russian embroidery where there is special attention to detail," comments the artist who was born in 1958 in a small town in the former USSR, that today belongs to Ukraine. Living in North Miami since 1993 , Milani has a special fascination with masterworks and how these have been reproduced and assimilated by contemporary culture. With her art, she reinterprets works from Da Vinci and Klimt, but also creates original works of landscape, portraits and still lifes. The production of an art work starts with a photograph that is then digitalized and modified and recreated at the artist's whim. The dimensions, color and depth are attained with the use of crystals in different shapes, sizes and colors that with the use of tongs, are carefully placed onto the fabric and adhered to it with a special glue.
Finally, she applies warmth to the work with a device similar to an industrial ironing machine. An artwork of about 60 x 44 inches can have between 50 and 70 thousand crystals. "To attain a work could take from three to four weeks, depending on the size," she says. Her prices can go from $3,000, for the smaller Works, up to $35,000. Milani studied classical art at the Art College in Ukraine and then fashion and design in the Institute of Light Industry, in St. Petersburg. Once in the US, she developed her art in the fashion world and collaborated with designer houses like Bebe, Tommy Hilfiger and Victoria's Secret. Last year she finally launched her career as an artist and presented a solo exhibition at the Galerie Memmi, in Paris, followed by a group show at Son Espace Gallery.
Besides her interest in classical art, Milani has a special fascination for commercial imagery and contemporary idols, which prompted her to create one of her most dazzling series titled Pop Icons. In this series she takes idols from the big screen or from the musical scene and immortalizes them in Swarovski, with homages to Marilyn Monroe, Bette Davis, Audrey Hepburn, Marlon Brando and The Beatles, among others. There are also commissioned works. Some of them hanging in the houses of famous Hollywood stars like the actor James Caan (Godfather, Thief), and also of the Miami Heat player Dwyane Wade. Part of her work is exhibited currently at David Streets Gallery, in Beverly Hills, and in Gasiunasen Gallery, in Palm Beach. From November 30th, Milani's work will be displayed at Myra Galleries in Wynwood, and will be on view during the Art Basel week.
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