Barskaya was born in Cherkassy, Ukraine in 1984 and currently lives in Brighton Beach, Brooklyn, in an apartment overlooking a parking lot and an ocean. Steeped in this neighborhood’s Russian immigrant milieu, Barskaya is a painter not just of people but of families. Her portraits encompass an ability to conceive of generations in the abstract, alongside an insistence on her specific experience as a daughter and granddaughter.
Barskaya has two modes: disinterested and wholly consumed. This duality finds a natural medium in watercolor, which allows the shift, in a single stroke, from intense coloration to ghostly blur. Every approach to belonging to life — sadness, boredom, an itch — is on display. Barskaya, working from photographs, is driven by a true need to chronicle. A need to express what is already lost, even as something new — a painting — is being created. Crease-shadows made by a father’s paunch packed into too-small shorts, an amoeba of untamed Jewish girl hair, faceless figures pressed together against a harsh geometric background that mirrors the nondescript scramble of memory and years.
—written by Yelena Akhtiorskaya (2015)