Overview participating exhibitions

Cruel and Unusual

Cruel and Unusual

Yana Payusova


Russian Prison Series was inspired by Payusova’s experience of studying and listening to personal stories of incarcerated teenagers (14-21 year-old boys) at Lebedeva and Kolpino prisons in St. Petersburg. Many of them became the victims of the economic chaos that followed the breakup of the Soviet Union. The work plays with concepts of saintliness, sins, holiness, and martyrdom by drawing on symbolic elements of Russian Christian Orthodox culture. The painted photographs are poetic invitation into the subjects’ life, thoughts, pain and sufferings. Payusova notes that both prison and church cultures are structured by rigid hierarchies and employ secret languages known only to a privileged few. Payusova conflates the two visual systems. “To shock or to insult the viewer is not my intention. I want them to consider what is more important - an icon or: a human life”.

  • RUSSIAN PRISON SERIES 2003-2005. Eye of Faith

  • RUSSIAN PRISON SERIES 2003-2005. Ghost


Yana Payusova was born in 1979 in Leningrad, USSR. Classically trained as a painter at the St. Petersburg Fine Art Lyceé, she later immigrated to the US. She received an MFA in New Media from the University of Colorado at Boulder.

Payusova’s paintings blend the styles and symbols of folk art, Russian icons, graphic poster art, illustration, and comics, and reflect Payusova’s cultural heritage and her training in traditional Russian realist painting. Payusova exhibits both nationally and internationally, including recent venues at the DeCordova Museum and Sculpture Park, Howard Yezerski Gallery (Boston), Mimi Ferzt Gallery (NYC) and Galerie Caprice Horn (Berlin). 


Cruel and Unusual

Cruel and Unusual

Price EUR 1,50