References to one’s roots and ethnicity have always constituted an integral part of a person’s identity centred on belonging to a nation or ethnic group. Marina Fedorova’s Kokoshnik painting explores the complex issue of self-identity in the modern world. The picture’s title alludes to a type of traditional female headdress of the Slavic peoples, the kokoshnik. A dazzling variety of kokoshniks used to be worn across Russia, crafted from different materials and expensive fabrics and always richly decorated with pearls, gems, and embroidery.


Despite the fact that this is an oil on canvas painting, the white background creates an airy, almost watercolour-like feel. The artist depicted two young girls, one of them with her back turned to the viewer. We cannot see her face, only her hair and her magnificent lacy headdress whose pattern evokes the frost flowers seen on windowpanes during the harsh Russian winters. The second female character is painted face forward wearing a bright outfit featuring a trendy flower pattern. Her kokoshnik is red – the colour symbolic of the sun and described by a synonym for ‘beautiful’ in the Proto-Slavic language. The girl, as if having stepped slightly behind her companion, is looking intently at someone or something: her eyes seem to be fixed on a certain person or scene taking place in front of her. The artist captures a fleeting moment and paints it in a realistic manner. The painting resembles a sketch taken behind the scenes at some modern-day fashion show, as if the girls – or the couturier – intentionally chose pieces of the Russian traditional costume as potential showstoppers. Nowadays we no longer wear ethnic dress and other folk attire in its original form, although more and more often designers and artists opt for vibrant, incredibly beautiful and quaint clothes and accessories inspired by and revisiting traditional garments.


Marina Fedorova



Oil on canvas

120×100 cm


220×200 cm

EUR 40 K

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