Lina Iris Viktor

Ancient iconographies in opulent palettes ask what light and dark might really mean.

artist looking into distance wearing jewellery and black top set against rocky background
artist gazing intently upon black sculpture vase in front of her
artist concentrating holding sculpture on table before her
4 images

Lina Iris Viktor was raised in the UK by Liberian parents, and now divides her time between London and Italy.

Career

An interest in astrophysics, dark matter and the manifold connotations of gold inform the artist’s expansive practice. This academically-grounded approach has seen Viktor deliver numerous high-profile guest lectures and talks - North Carolina Museum of Art, New York University, Columbia and Harvard to name a few.

At auction

In 2021 Constellations III – an original painting in 24 karat gold, acrylic and gouache – was purchased in a Phillips auction for $270,000 USD.

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Practice overview

Viktor is a multi-disciplinary artist known for her opulent compositions that juxtapose deep black and lapis against thick, 24-karat gold-leaf. With a background in theatre and film, she combines painting, photography and performance to create arresting portraits of powerful women. The works reference ancient histories from multiple empires that existed across Central and West Africa and are also inspired by mathematics and astrophysics. These scientific approaches inform Viktor’s intricate and methodical process which utilises traditional gilding techniques, layers of pigment and deep sheens of resin and lacquer. The artist calls her art “light-works,” referring to their symbolic use of extreme contrast to pose philosophical questions about the nature of black and gold, light and dark, life and death.

Viktor often uses her own body in her art. However, she does not see the works as self-portraits, but instead as a series of different characters who she plays. For example, in Yaa Asantewaa (2016) the artist homages the warrior queen of the same name from the Ashanti Empire. Face painted inky black, body poised and defiant, Viktor challenges societal and historical ideas of Blackness through the pure materiality of the colour itself. Similarly, this is why Gold is paramount to the works. “Modernity has devalued gold to a commodity, but previously it was heralded for its spiritual value.” Via her art, Viktor returns the precious metal back to these sacred roots — drawing old traditions into speculative futures.

“I feel that I have a mandate as an artist to not only make things that resonate with people on an aesthetic level, but also to address socio-political conversations.” Lina Iris Viktor