At the heart of artist Yuma Radné’s practice is a celebration of her heritage; born in Oula Oudé, she is a descendant of the Buryats, a Mongolian indigenous group native to Buryatia. For those unfamiliar with the city, Oula Oudé is the capital of the Republic of Buryatia located in Siberia. As a centre of trade between Russia, China and Mongolia, Buryatia exists at a cultural intersection; through her work, Radné explores this unique ideological and ethnic amalgam while taking great inspiration from ancient Buryat traditions and practices.
Much like the Buryat people, Radné work exists at an intersection: through sensitive and poetic figurative paintings, she celebrates the ancient traditions and practices of her people, while simultaneously interrogating orientalist misinterpretations. Her commanding work speaks openly and joyfully of her people’s origins, histories and lives in the present. The paintings are both vulnerable and empowered, deploying a personal symbolic lexicon to offer glimpses into an often-overlooked cultural experience and ethnic identity.
I made a real quick sketch during a lecture in the academy, forgot about it for a couple of weeks and then realised it was a fun idea when I came back to the sketchbook. It was something new for me: the composition, the colours, the fish. I didn’t really know till the end what I was painting. I saw some shapes and forms but I decided not to define them, leaving the work open to thousands of possible interpretations.– YUMA RADNÉ
Radné is currently presenting her debut solo show, ‘To come up with a long song’ at BLOOM, Saint Tropez. The exhibition title was drawn from an ancient Mongolian tradition, the ‘urtiin duu’ or ‘long song’. This age-old lyrical chant, with specific iterations native to certain regions and communities, plays a distinct and honoured role in Mongolian society. It is a ritual form of expression associated with important celebrations and festivities, characterised by a slow and steady rising melody and a lively rhythm intercepting the falling melody. The exhibition itself mirrors this melodious cadence, with each painting offering a unique tonality, tempo and mood. For Radné, monumentalising the ‘long song’ becomes emblematic of her appreciation for many Mongolian traditions and beliefs. She sees herself as a messenger, sharing philosophical, cultural and personal ideas rooted in Mongolian traditions.
The idea of whispering just obsessed me at this point, I was thinking about sounds: loud and quiet. I really needed to make a painting with someone sitting there and whispering, and something being so loud but yet you can’t hear it. With some paintings the form just comes to you, you don’t know what it is and you just have to paint it. With some, you search, and search, and draw a lot, and then redraw, because you have a certain idea this time but it’s nothing until you have a good sketch. It was like this with the painting ‘All truths in red’, that I actually wanted to name ‘A difficult choice’ or something, but changed my mind after because that would be too much of a painting about a choice, which maybe it isn’t…– YUMA RADNÉ
Radné’s paintings fuse innumerable disparate historical and pictorial influences. Freeing herself from the confines of classical painting, her works posit a cosmic, fantastical and esoteric reading of the world. Inspired by creation narratives, origin myths and ancient stories she identifies the essence of our world as an elemental creative force from which all things derive. She criticises contemporary societies’ detachment from this energy, attributing this disconnect to humanity’s overreliance on reason, logic and pragmatism. For her, many aspects of modern society desensitise each individual to the earths and their own creative energy.
I felt so agitated during this period of my life, I had too many things to take care of. At some point I was biking and I realised that I was not enjoying the bike ride, but thinking of all the things I had to get done. I thought to myself, wow I really need to relax, but I don’t have time, I need to paint so many paintings. So, I just decided to paint something that would make me feel relaxed and focused.– YUMA RADNÉ
Radné’s works pose challenging questions regarding our relationship to nature and the universe – is modernity crushing man’s soul? What do we do once our traditions and origins are neglectfully forgotten? Through her mysterious almost mythic paintings, she encourages the viewer to open up to spiritual connection. Her works are themselves punctuated with sacred symbols: “Earth and sky have a huge importance in my work. The sky, which is called ‘Tengri’, is our religion”. Her characters display a universally understandable emotional range, yet hidden among them are barely decipherable symbols and secret stories. Historically grounded in traditions of Fauvism and German Symbolism, Yuma Radné’s work brings forth the spirit of a new generation of artists in search of renewal.
Yuma Radné ‘To come up with a long song’ continues at BLOOM, Saint Tropez, until 10th March 2023. Gloria + Bloom Projects, St Tropez, 5 avenue Paul Roussel, 83990§.