Clouded – essay by Aline Sofie Rainer

The sky is extremely clouded since the explosions last night and my mind is clouded today, is what you told me, when we last talked on the phone... This sentiment can point towards a state of mind or the sky, in this case, both.


I own a corsage now that’s covered in clouds. At the front, hard parts are sewn in a pattern of windows to make it stiff, fitted along the body. In combination with a midnight blue silk skirt a friend of mine called it the “Magritte dress”. When I wear the corsage,  I feel secure, I feel safe and at the same time like walking on clouds, even if it is imprisoning my ribcage. It’s almost like an armour, I want to give it to you, like a tight hug, to make you feel safe again.


Masha Silchenko’s sculptures have eyes, wings, a person is floating in the air, you can see my hint to surrealism making sense now. She is recently depicting a lot of windows as the central point of attention, most of the time people are gazing at grey walls, through grid-like structures, it’s obvious that one feels kept, unable to move, to leave the house, when looking at the paintings and drawings. The canvas looks frail with its hand-sewn seam, dangling on a thin wire construction from four points, pinned to the wall. The sewing around makes it safe, as much as the corsage makes me feel safe. A kind of fragility is also present when I look at Masha’s ceramic works. Her ceramics from now and then still inhabit the influence of Japanese craft in terms of the colors and kinds of glazes she is using, it’s a very distinct way of firing, sometimes spots are almost glassy, see-through, others are covered in cracks making it seem brittle. When observing her paintings, they have this fragility and translucence too. Very thin layers of paint mixed with pencil give you an impression of a dream like state, it’s as if you just woke from
a daydream, but it already turned night. 


Bowls have eyes, watching you (they inhabit a spirit, a kami), ceramic tissues are hanging on this thin steel thread, little daisies knotted loosely in between. The colors blue and yellow, a bright blue and bright yellow are catching my attention immediately and are inevitably connected to Ukraine, as Silchenko is Ukrainian herself, even if she said that she chose these colors unconsciously. Her works speak of a loss, of grief, but are at the same time very powerful in a subtle, resilient way. Great strength is shining through, an unbelievable thoroughness, a holding on and not giving up. Some canvases are being used as a kind of diary, scraps of thoughts, it seems as if the author feels imprisoned by the circumstances. The subject of windows and yellow lamps, yellow lighting is reappearing quite often, interestingly enough it’s almost always the view 

from inside to outside, never the other way around. Tie dye, bleach, loss, she left parts white where the light is supposed to be, people who died are coming back as light, spirits are hiding in the dark, shadows haunting. Some magical creatures are hiding, who says that we shouldn’t believe in ghosts anymore. We feel unknown things, a community of creatures is still living in the dark, but slowly disappearing due to electric light. In the past, spirits would inhabit forests and would take care of nature, but today not anymore. Natural light is frightening them, scaring them away.


The idea of the night as a shelter place for ghosts is very clear in Silchenko’s works, also objects inhabited by spirits, surrounded by a specific aura. In her works Silchenko is creating her own fairy tales to escape this world and it works, we, the viewers can delve into her world and are being carried away. A triangle relationship between a woman, a lion and a crow. A delicate withering red flower in the light of a lamp on a desk – infant of the crack of dawn, or the view into a magical garden at night where the only light that is given, is due to the moon. Crying clouds, a woman disappearing in her own sofa and melting into the background of the wallpaper, an empty, sad room with black walls, it’s as if she is just waiting to break out, to burst this prison of thoughts and memories.