Dunya Zakharova first introduced the public to her soft and fleshy, foetus-like rag dolls at her solo show, Extinct Species, which took place in 2016 at Moscow’s Osnova Gallery. Arranged as a cabinet of curiosities, the exhibition brought together Zakharova’s dolls with other organic self-made artefacts. Prior to this, Zakharova had dedicated her career to being a fashion illustrator, working with entirely different forms. Today, the artist, who hails from the Far East’s Yakutia but is based in Moscow, leans more towards abstraction and minimalism, producing painting, drawing and sculpture.
She describes her creative process as one that starts with colours, shapes, and lines, but is ultimately guided by emotion. For Extinct Species she took us back to our primordial selves to show humans at their most fragile and vulnerable. Her follow-up exhibition, -77,8°C, named after the coldest temperature recorded in her hometown in 1938, similarly contemplates human frailty and the fight for survival. Her work is unsettling yet tender, all because Zakharova imbues her creations with human sensitivities.