Lena Klyukina Highlark


Illustrator Lena Klyukina‘s interpretation of the human body is a boundless one, paying homage to its physical malleability as well as its conceptual one. Her work, done mostly in black and white with occasional splashes of color, is an allegory dabbling in the earthly, the supernatural, and the absurdly alluring. Whether her scenes reflect the world we all inhabit or the one within the walls of her mind, the symbolism inside remains interpretive yet meticulous enough to speak clearly to us as the audience.

Lena takes full liberty with the human physicality, altering and rearranging it as she pleases, speaking to our identity as a society and our treasured individualism. The concept of deformity runs rampant throughout her portfolio; the figures are often out of proportion, slightly amiss. These peculiarities work in conjunction with the other elements in a given piece, interacting in a way that makes sense despite the imperfection and tying an entire composition together. In one of her pieces, titled A World Apart, the image is centered on a seated figure who, as its head explodes into shards of stone, cups its hands to feed a doe-eyed calf. The back of the calf resembles a mountain, and thus three elements of life on earth are connected in a single drawing, each depending on another and giving the two that remain a steadfast purpose. In Shore the human cradles a beached sea creature, her ribs exposed to the sun and her legs unraveling in spools of string. The desperation there is a common thread that links the organisms in the piece but also offers a certain hope grounded in unity. It’s this togetherness, the uninterrupted flow from character to character, flora to fauna, nature to environment, that fortifies Lena’s work with such a compelling narrative structure.

Touching again on the connection between artist and audience, Lena has a knack for taking a certain normalcy and placing it in circumstances that change its function altogether. In her rendition of the Mona Lisa, she puts the subject against a forest backdrop of dead trees, awash in shadows and holding a fawn on her lap. The familiar countenance takes on a fresh persona, and the fabled smile becomes something else entirely, as defined by Lena. Her work is all done in pencil, a medium I don’t see all that often when reviewing artist portfolios, and the simplicity of it is priceless to her style, which is anything but simple. Every image is saturated, but the medium and compositional eye of the artist keeps it from becoming crowded and allows its nuances to resonate.

No part of Lena’s illustration is ornamental. Everything is intentional and arranged so that the viewer discovers it in time with space to wonder and space to admire. Her site features a select few pieces which can also be purchased in the form of prints, cases, and stationery cards.


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Lena Klyukina Highlark
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