For years Yulia Brodskaya has gravitated toward light backdrops for her densely quilled paper portraits. “It rarely even crossed my mind that I should choose any colour other than white. White allows all wonderful colour reflections and blended inter-reflections from paper strips to be visible and showcased at their fullest potential,” she says. In recent months, though, the United Kingdom-based artist has started to utilize dark canvases, which poses new challenges as some of her standard techniques, like composing portraits with thin strips, don’t translate well. “Black color is dense, dominating, it absorbs all reflections and most of the shadows; only top edges of paper strips are left to see,” she says.
Instead, Brodskaya has focused on thicker rolls and larger bends to create necessary contrast. Many of the vibrant portraits feature larger, three-dimensional swaths similar to brushstrokes, a nod to the artist’s method of “painting with paper,” that help to highlight distinct features. “I chose to leave plenty of empty dark space and blend in colored parts to gradually transition them into the black nothingness, so the background plays a crucial role in these new artworks,” she says.