Leila Ataya | BIO < back to artists

Born in Russia, Moscow in 1979.

From a very young age her life was strongly influenced by art. Leila has studied traditional Russian art including ceramics, lack miniature “Palekh” and also trained in Russian Iconography. In 1995 she was accepted into Arts College in Russia, Moscow and continued studies of watercolour and drawing.

In 1996 she moved with her family to New Zealand and entered Elam School of Fine Arts, University of Auckland and in 2001 graduated with BFA in the Discipline of Painting. The same year she won the "Telecom Art Awards" with work ‘The Keys to New Zealand’ featuring on the cover of the 2001 Auckland phone book. In 2002 she visited Thailand as a result of winning "The Nokia Art Awards - Asia Pacific 2001".

Since than Leila has participated in a number of group shows and personal exhibitions. Her works feature in many private collections in New Zealand and other countries of the world including Australia, England, South Korea, Russia etc.

Recently a profile and a selection of her works featured in “New Zealand’s Favourite Artist’s” Book by Denis Robinson, published by Saint Publishing in 2006. In 2007 she won the Popular Choice Award at “Waitakere Trust Art Awards”, People’s Choice award at “The Morpeth Canada 2008 Art Award“ and came third at “The Mazda Awards 2008“.

Artist’s Statement

Most of my current works depict a magical world, where illusion and reality blur and where painted objects have powerful narratives that create intimate relationships with the viewer, lead the onlooker on and makes him/her create their own story.

I would like to entice you in a surrealistic ambiguity through the narrative of the portrayed objects and especially fruits as they have always been looked at as more than just a source of food, constantly intertwined and tangled with religion, life, sex, and many other aspects of life and human nature. Paintings are filled with double meanings and symbolic hooks of the concepts within the subject. The represented world is like a fly-agaric so bright, attractive and beautiful but filled with poison: perfectly finished beautiful and luxurious objects and fruit that look so perfect and real that it’s almost fake in it’s perfection to entice and seduce the viewer into another world for a close inspection of the painted creation as a language of life-size illusions allows me to communicate with a wide audience. It is a tool to lure the onlookers and help them to transit into the world represented by the painting. All of the above notions help me to challenge the viewer to unravel the stories and statements within the works.

There is no final understanding to the works, it is the creative process of the viewer engaging with the painting through narrative. Through my paintings I create a visual story, which only the spectator can complete with the use of their own intellect, sense of humour and imagination.

Now I would like to welcome you all to the magical world where illusion and reality blur to help you complete the creative process of painting your own narratives.