Austin artist’s music boxes are playful, quirky and little nightmarish

Yuliya Lanina mines folk tales, diving into the decidedly less Disneyesque versions than we know today.

The Russian-born, Austin-based artist creates wondrous paintings and small-scale mechanical sculptures — music boxes that play melodies by composer Yevgeniy Sharlat, Lanina’s husband.

Her latest work gets the spotlight at Camiba Art Gallery in an exhibit opening Friday and continuing through Sept. 10.

Yuliya Lanina, "Frog Marriage." acrylic and collage
Yuliya Lanina, “Frog Marriage.” acrylic and collage

In Lanina’s fictive universe, animals are anthropomorphized, or sometimes half-human, half-animal demigods. Flora, trees and plants have human characteristics, too. And Lanina packs in more than an undercurrent of darkness and violence and sexuality.

This is the stuff of original folk tales — the unsettling cautionary tales collected by the Brothers Grimm, the moody dark stories of Lanina’s native Russia.

“Once Upon a Time” is Lanina’s series of small-scale mechanical and musical sculptures based on popular folk tales.  Each of the wind-up toys features moving figures atop a wooden box, the music played by a revolving brass cylinder that plucks the tuned teeth of a steel comb.

Check out Lanina’s “Red Hood” below:


And check out the Austin360 curated guide to art galleries






Author: Jeanne Claire van Ryzin

Jeanne Claire van Ryzin is the arts critic for the Austin American-Statesman. She writes about visual art, theater, dance, music, performance, public art, architecture and just about any combination thereof.

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