Text by Irina Rusinovich
In a world where art and science collide, Vanessa Onuk has found her unique artistic voice. Born and raised near Frankfurt am Main, Onuk initially pursued a path in medicine before following her passion for painting in 2022. With a clear vision in mind, she uses acrylic paint to create layers of textures and vibrant color gradients in her artwork. Experimenting with different canvas substrates, she discovered that working on pure, unprimed linen allows her to achieve the perfect mix of bleeding colors and precise applications. Onuk’s abstract landscapes aim to capture moments that mesmerize us, where we want to linger and absorb the beauty of our surroundings. By reducing her works to shapes, colors, and feelings, she invites viewers to bring their own experiences and memories to the artwork, creating a uniquely personal connection. Onuk’s intuitive approach offers a framework for emotions and memories to arise individually, resulting in a captivating and thought-provoking experience for each viewer. We wanted to know more about Vanessa and her approach..
Can you tell us about your journey as an artist? How did your upbringing and education influence your decision to pursue art professionally?
The interesting thing about life is that it always takes different paths than you planned. I am a trained doctor, still run a practice with my husband, and have already worked in one of the largest prisons in Germany in my career and am currently a forensic doctor for the police. This more scientific way of life is something that I would never want to miss, but I always missed the creative part of my life. My uncle is an artist and I have been fascinated by art since I was a small child. As a young woman and mother, I was unable to pursue artistic independence for many years. At the beginning of 2023, my husband gave the impetus to publish my pictures. I have now come to terms with the fact that I need both parts of my life to find inner peace.
What inspired you to start experimenting with acrylic paint and different techniques to achieve layers, textures, and strong color gradients in your artwork?
I have always been magically fascinated by bleeding colors and natural color gradients. At the beginning I had a lot of problems achieving these effects, let alone using them specifically, because the paint rested on the canvas instead of sinking into it. Due to the lack of unprimed canvases, I started experimenting with substrates to achieve the desired effect. While experimenting, I accidentally noticed how wonderful the color changes appear when the colors are applied in layers and I specifically tried to recreate these effects. From my point of view, this technique gives my images a lightness and transparency, overall the finish is matt with a strong vintage effect, especially when looking closely at the canvas, which reveals the unique structure.
Vanessa Onuk Catharsis acrylic on linen 160x80cm 2023
Why did you choose to work exclusively on pure, unprimed linen as your canvas substrate? How does it contribute to the desired effects in your paintings?
Part of the question has already been answered in the paragraph above. When choosing the substrate (cotton or linen), the difference is that the denser and evenly woven cotton allows very even, controlled transitions to be achieved and at the same time sharp, clear lines can be achieved. The end result is always a little sharper, less abstract. Pure linen absorbs the color more strongly, they dry much more transparently and brightly overall. At the same time uncontrollable bleeding effects occur at the edges. the application of paint on linen is more raw and leads to extremely unique, abstract effects.
How have your artistic experiments and discoveries evolved over time? Have you encountered any challenges or breakthrough moments in your pursuit of your artistic goals?
The artistic breakthrough for me personally was the moment when I was able to understand colors and backgrounds in their reactions. At the beginning of my artistic journey, effects were often products of chance and the actual idea behind the image was only partly possible. Over time I can assess the advantages and disadvantages of the bases of the colors and can influence them through the different degrees of pre-watering of canvas and paint in order to achieve my desired effects. This means that I have been able to offer corresponding commission work for a few months now, which I really enjoy.
Vanessa Onuk Gentle Reduction
Can you share your experience of being nominated for the Finalist Awards in several art competitions and being featured in magazines and art magazines? How has this recognition impacted your career as an artist?
First of all, I obviously felt very honored, especially because I didn’t expect it after such a short time in the business. The really positive effect, however, is the increased visibility as an artist. Because in my opinion, the biggest obstacle as a “new artist” is the lack of visibility. Especially with the changes in the algorithm in social media and the flood of artists on large platforms, it is a good opportunity to set yourself apart.
What can we expect from your upcoming exhibitions? Can you give us a glimpse into the concept or theme of the exhibition and the artwork you will be showcasing?
I would be very honored if I had the opportunity to have a solo exhibition of my pictures in the future. Since I paint both abstract landscapes and figurative abstract paintings, an exhibition of one of the motif forms would be the perfect opportunity to present my way of representation in a larger collective of images. My big dream would be to be able to exhibit large formats as well, as I find the effect in large dimensions to be very impressive.
How do you feel about having your art represented in a respected online gallery? How does it influence the reach and exposure of your artwork?
Although I think that art is always best judged when it can be viewed in person, I strongly believe that online galleries offer the form of representation of the future to easily connect art lovers and collectors worldwide and make art more visible. For this reason, being included in a reputable online gallery is another of my artistic goals.
Thank you, Vanessa, and good luck with your artistic goals!
Vanessa Onuk on Instagram