When Maya Eventov and her family moved from Russia to Canada in 1990, she immediately was drawn to her new country’s birch trees — reminders of the natural beauty in the country of her birth.
In a sort of kinship with the enduring sentimentality of couples carving their initials into the bark of trees, Eventov turned from brushes to knives and used her artistic talents to sculpturally paint images of the trees she so admired — building instead of whittling.
The technique, comfortable for her with the use of acrylics, spread across all of her subjects on canvas, whether people, places or abstractions.
“Working with knives requires very decisive strokes, and, at some point, I was confident enough to start doing that,” Eventov says. “The technique allows me to be much more expressive than I would be with brushes. The color can have more dimensions because of the layering.”
Eventov, whose work is shown in galleries around the world, has long been represented at the Danielle Peleg Gallery in West Bloomfield, but she will have more concentrated attention with her first exhibit there running Dec. 1-18. The artist will be present for the opening reception on the evening of Dec. 1, when there will be music and catered hors d’oeuvres celebrating the variety of her expressiveness.
“I’m very excited about this exhibit and glad to be visiting Michigan, where my youngest daughter is a medical student at Wayne State University,” says Eventov, 53, whose oldest daughter is an economist. “My husband, Boris, an engineer, and I travel often to see our daughter in Detroit.”
“We are so excited to have Maya at the gallery,” owner Ady Peleg says. “Her work has the ability to touch collectors with its depth and texture; it is at once relevant and intimate. Maya’s work instills both a sense of calm introspection and atmospheric energy. It is a breath of fresh air.”
Eventov’s interest in art began in childhood as her parents took her to see the artistic masterpieces on display in Leningrad, now St. Petersburg. The works of the Post-Impressionists and the Russian avant-garde proved inspirational. Paintings by Matisse and Gauguin affected her use of color, while the images of Rodchenko and Malevich influenced her sense of balance and composition.
Artistic studies began when Eventov was 6 years old, and she went on to win scholarships by participating in various juried exhibitions. She attended the high school affiliated with the St. Petersburg State Academy of Industrial and Applied Art and graduated from the academy in 1987 with a master’s degree in graphic design.
“When I graduated in Russia, I was assigned a job in a wallpaper factory,” she recalls. “I illustrated children’s books on the side. It was decided that I could participate in exhibitions of my private artistry.”
Cousins living in Canada were instrumental in helping the family in their move.
“We were brought up in a very secular way in Russia, but I still had a strong Jewish identity,” she says. “When we came to Canada, we joined a synagogue, and our children went to a Jewish day school. We really discovered religion through our children.”
That discovery led to a work with a Jewish theme. Tree of Life explores her roots and is on display at the Dallas Museum of Biblical Art.
“The last couple of years have been a very creative time in my life,” says Eventov, who relaxes by viewing theatrical productions, particularly with trips to Broadway. “The imagery I have painted is quite widespread. I have a studio off my kitchen, and that’s how I’ve worked all my life. I wanted to paint while raising my family.
“My works speak of my feelings of happiness, especially living in the security of Canada. I love to paint because it feels great, and I hope my art is a way to transfer this positive energy and wonderful feelings to others.”
The sculptural paintings of Maya Eventov will be on display Dec. 1-18 at the Danielle Peleg Gallery in West Bloomfield. The opening reception — which will kick off the gallery’s annual Holiday Sale — runs 6-9 p.m. Friday, Dec. 1, and features music plus hors d’oeuvres by Annabel Cohen Cooks Detroit. The reception is free with a chance to win an Eventov painting, but reservations are required at (248) 626-5810