'Christ Is Not An Aryan' on top of Axel Spinger Building in Berlin, 2007
‘A scientist by education, an artist by practice, a creativity champion by mission’.
Graduating in science in 1989 (Alla holds a BSc in Mechanical Engineering and an MSc in Technical Science), since 1992 Alla has enjoyed a career in fine art exploring the notions of human identity, synergy of art and technology, and social impact of the arts.
Her work has featured on three front pages of the leading national newspapers The Times (UK) and Bild (Germany), and in The Guardian, Independent, Jackdaw Art Review, Art Industry, Hello, Der Spiegel, Die Welt, Dancing Times, Evening Standard, ITV and BSN television platforms and other press and media.
Alla has exhibited her art in the UK, USA, Germany, South Korea, and Ukraine. Her paintings were included in art collections of the Royal College of Music and BBC Public Ownership Collection. She is a recipient of the Leverhulme Artist-in-Residence Award, UK Millennium Award, and Gold Medal of the Lead Awards. Alla is a an RSA Fellow. Alla lives and works in London.
The 20th Century Naked Dictators Series, 2002-07
In 2002-07, Alla’s ‘20th Century Naked Dictators’ series of paintings, floor-adhesive prints, posters, wallpaper designs, billboards, and animation explored the contemporary context of the historic personalities of Hitler, Mussolini, Franco, Mao Zedong and Stalin beyond the documentary analysis. The ‘Naked Dictators’ featured in Der Freund (Germany) in 2005 and in 2007 an animation 'Christ is Not an Aryan' was screened on Europe’s largest digital screen on top of the Axel Springer Building in Berlin, and named as “one of three things to see in Berlin” by Bild and BZ Magazine (Germany). The painting 'Siamese Twins' featured as ‘The Image of the Week' in The Times' Art Review (UK). Alla was named the 'Critic's Choice' by Saatchi Online and exhibited the series at her solo exhibition at the Crone Gallery in Berlin in 2007.
Prince Charles Portrait Series, 2000-02
In 2000-02, Alla created a series of drawings and paintings of Prince Charles following a sitting at Highgrove, which featured on the cover of The Times (UK), Bild (Germany), and Der Freund literary magazine (Germany). The painting 'Black Prince’ won the Gold Medal of the Lead Award for ‘Best Magazine Cover of the Year 2005'. The series was exhibited at Ebury Galleries in London's Belgravia in 2002.
National Portrait Gallery Seminars, 2002-06
Alla curated her own seminar series on modern portraiture called ‘The Changing Face of Portraiture’ at the National Portrait Gallery in London in 2002-2006 debating how portraiture can escape the ‘shackles of convention’ with leading artists and critics such as Maggi Hambling and Tim Marlow. The Times (UK) was the series’ media partner and wrote: “Alla Tkachuk believes that radical new concepts are needed in portraiture today. She would like to encourage 3D digital and installation portraiture, has invited a cosmetic surgeon to discuss his work ‘sculpt faces’, commissioned a ‘sound portrait’ that uses computer software which translates image into music, and offered herself as a living portrait to grace the walls of the NPG. Tkachuk intends the choice of venue to be provocative. The NPG was established by the Victorians as a gallery about history and status of the sitter rather than the quality of the portrait as art.” (The Times, 13 June 2006).
5D Instigative Heads, 2004-08
In 2004-08, Alla created an experimental series of work, the “Instigative Head: 5D”, which explored the transformation of production and consumption of representational art through modern digital technologies. The ‘Heads’ are 3D scans of sitters' facial expressions which were then rendered in oil paint medium as ‘texture maps’. They were 3D digitally merged, moulded and deformed in space and time and then integrated with electro-acoustic landscapes and augmented reality. Finally, they were 3D printed and projected. The ‘Heads’ were shown at the National Portrait Gallery as part of 'The Changing Face of Portraiture’ seminars in 2006. In 2007, they were exhibited at the Shunt, London, where viewers could interact with them through the motion sensing technology. In 2010, they were on show at the renowned Balaklava Odyssey Media Art Festival in Crimea, Ukraine.
Social Impact Art, 2007- ongoing
Alla believes that “Art can not only express issues, it can deal with the issues directly enabling people to change the world and reach for the common good”. This kind of art is called Social Art. In 2007, while painting in Kenya, Alla discovered that art education was limited in Kenyan schools and founded MASK (Mobile Art School in Kenya, www.mobileartschoolinkenya.org) dedicated to engendering creativity and innovation of young people and transforming the imagination of young people into creativity, and innovation into success. MASK has developed the theory and practice of creativity education and has trained hundreds of young people and dozens of teachers. It celebrates the young artistic and social imagination with the renowned MASK Awards that now reach 11 countries in Africa, and unleashes the economic potential by connecting the innovative youth with companies for employment opportunities.
Alla presented the MASK project at UNESCO in France and South Korea, the Saatchi Gallery (eight exhibitions), Turner Contemporary (three exhibitions including a 5-year retrospective show called ‘All art should be social art’), ROSL (two exhibitions), and SOAS University of London (Alla organised a seminar ‘Art Education in Kenya’), Nairobi National Museum and RaMOMA (exhibitions, Kenya), the U.S. Library of Congress (two presentation-exhibitions), George Washington University, the Woodrow Wilson Center (Alla organised a seminar-exhibition ‘Creativity Education in Africa’), and a presentation at the White House in Washington DC which was followed by personal recognition letter from Barack and Michelle Obama in 2013.
MASK was acknowledged by Harvard University’s Global Education Innovations (USA), the Results for Development’s Center for Education Innovation (USA), and the International Society for Education Through Art (InSEA) of UNESCO. In 2020, MASK won the ‘Most Innovative Learning Organisation 2020’ Award of Greater London Enterprise Awards (UK). In 2017, the Kenyan government made “creativity” a “core competence” of their new basic school curriculum.
Opera and other portraits, 1997 - 2018
Alla painted the world-renowned opera singers at the Royal Opera portraying them as stage characters. Sir John Tomlinson - as Boris Godunov, Boris Ismailov, Méphistophélès, Hagen, Hunding, and Asterious. Dmitri Hvorostovsky - as Onegin. Sir Bryn Terfel - as Wotan. Dame Felicity Lott - as the Marschallin. Angela Gheorghiu - as Magda. Sir Willard White - as Coppélius. Sir Thomas Allen - as Alfonzo. Jose Cura - as Samson. Marcelo Alvarez - as Werther. The paintings were exhibited at the Royal Society of Portrait Painters, the Royal Opera House Shop, and the Russian Culture House in London in 2018.
She created portraits of the dancers of the Royal Ballet too. Among them are Dame Darcey Bussell, Irek Muhamedov, and Jonathan Cope. The portrait of Darcey Bussell featured on the front page of The Times (UK) in 1998. Among her private and public portrait commissions are portraits of Dame Ninette de Valois commissioned by the Royal Ballet, the Vice Chancellor Professor David Dilks commissioned by the University of Hull, George Steiner commissioned by Queen Mary University of London, Academician U. Osipov commissioned by the Russian Academy of Science, Sir John Nott, Lord Bird, and other public personalities.
From 2014, Alla has written a column on art and creativity for the Kenyan national newspaper The Star, and has also contributed to the blogs of the RSA (UK) and the Results for Development Institute (USA), magazines such as AD (UK), Childhood Education (USA), Private Sector (Kenya), and other publications.