Lina Viktor: Who Spins Art Out of Gold

She’s been called a cross between M.I.A. and Nicki Minaj, but artist Lina Viktor rejects the idea of being labeled and put in a box.

Lina Viktor
Lina Viktor Courtesy of Lina Viktor

The artist Lina Viktor is every inch a living, breathing piece of art, from her gold-draped fingers, brown skin and blond hair to her skintight catsuit and platform sneakers. Some have called her the art world’s cross between M.I.A. and Nicki Minaj, but she begs to disagree, and so does The Root.

Viktor is her own woman and has developed her own signature style in the art world. “This is my narrative now,” says the 27-year-old artist, whose first solo show is taking place at Gallery 151 in New York City’s Chelsea neighborhood. Word to the unwise: No one puts Viktor in a box.

“While society wants to put you in a box, I’ve always been drawn to those that exist outside the box and whose vision transcends all of that. That’s how I see myself,” says Viktor.

It’s clear her work is really an extension of herself. The art on the walls of Gallery 151 is best described as visual compositions made from mixed media. Viktor mixes layers of 24-karat-gold leaf sheets with black and white acrylic paint, and sometimes a regal blue, to form geometric images that she describes as complex, pattern-based works.

“I’m very much interested in very large concepts of the universe, mathematics, division, geometry, mythology and art history,” says Viktor. In fact, there is quite a bit of math involved. Victor says that each of the 10 paintings in her show uses a third more gold than the previous one, until the last in the series is completely full of the precious metal. She incorporates a modern form of water gilding to transfer the gold to her canvas.

“I used to paint with gold paint,” says Viktor, but she was influenced early on to switch to gold leaf. “There’s something that happens when people see gold. It’s like an emotional reaction, and you can’t replicate that with gold paint or fool’s gold,” says Viktor.

The exhibition is entitled “Arcadia,” which is a reference to a type of Greek utopia from the Golden Age. Not surprisingly, the prices of her pieces reflect not just the gold but also the work that goes into her art. Smaller pieces start at $12,000 and go as high as $70,000. One of the most striking works is a self-portrait photo collage that imagines Viktor as Queen Elizabeth I at her coronation, complete with a golden orb.

“A lot of my work is concept-based, and I use myself in my work a lot, “ says Viktor. Curator Laura O’Reilly says, “What makes Lina’s work so compelling is the way it integrates modern digital technology with this ancient craft of hand gilding the gold onto the canvas. The juxtaposition of the two creates this really uniquely timeless, yet very now, feeling when you look at it.” Certainly there is a visual density that hypnotizes people.