Riné Fleuré was born in Togliatti, in the heart of Russia during the autumn of 1984. Her father was an entrepreneur, a typical Russian man with blue eyes, tall and blond; her mother, a beautiful woman with a strong nature, skilled in tailoring. They marry in Togliatti, the city founded in 1737 with the name of Stavropol'-na-Volge by Vasily Tatishchev.
The grey and straight post-Soviet architecture and the cold temperatures that in winter fall 35 degrees below zero don't help ambitions, but as Riné says: “It is possible to dream even in places like this. I remember that it was impossible go to school because of the ice all over my face, whilst the summer was so hot that people would escape to their houses in the countryside. In Russia we call them dacha. Life went by slowly and time seemed to stand still”.
Riné grew up free in the nature of golden fields. Summers with family were filled with happy moments. She followed her mum and dad everywhere and the little girl discovers the passion for the land and the cultivation. The countryside is a game of magic and wonder, she sows, plants and picks.
Togliatti is a city built in the green, surrounded by mountains and bathed by the Volga. This river was as endless as her dreams. “It was magic staying there in summer, starring at the sunset from the highest peak. In winter we used to go skiing in the forest. I remember we liked to feel the taste of the snow, soft and cold, shining in the light of sun”.
Thanks to her seamstress mother, she grows observing her skillful hands, creating dresses at home with colourful fabrics. She will keep in her mind those colors and patterns. Her mother used to tell her fairytales and little Riné learns to read at only five years old.
Her father, the youngest son of a big family, is for her the archetypal man, precise and punctual. He used to follow the rule “no sooner said than done”. With him, everything was possible. He loved to joke and laugh. A man that never surrendered in front of difficulties. Passionate about English literature, Walter Scott and Jack London, he collected books. Most of all he loved nature and was a beekeeper. “We always have our honey at home. The world of bees is ancient and particular. I never had a fear of bees. You need to understand how to relate with them. You always have to respect nature. Honey is the most ancient product on earth. I always been fascinated by its different shades, a chromatic range from the bright white to dark amber. The gold holds the power of nature, full of light and energy. The bees symbolize my home. Every time I see a bee flying I feel close to my father”.
Her inherited love for literature takes Riné to the faculty of journalism and in five years she graduates. Meanwhile, she starts working as a teacher. This experience is very formative, and the kind relation with the little ones shows her the value of pureness. She writes articles for several Russian magazines as well as working as a TV reporter. But this is not enough for her. Her passion for fashion takes her to a Russian school for models. She feels confident and takes a one way ticket to Milan. Italy is not only fashion, for Riné it is the land of art.
A book about Leonardo Da Vinci that she comes across whilst at university was the spark. She wanted to know everything about him, his studies and his homeland, Italy. “It's not only because of fashion that I arrived in Italy, most important for me was the love for art, music and culture. Italy is a special country, with its’ theatres, museums, monuments... it’s all an art gallery. I left for Milan, it was 2009. I felt myself at home from the first moment. I was curious about fashion and I started with the first screen sets, then the shootings, fashion shows and parties”.
The high life that she dreamt of came to her quickly without giving her the opportunity to look back. The first years are fast and the memories are few, luxury doesn't leave space. She forgets from where she started and Russia looks like a distant memory.
The lost of the father in Riné's life marks a huge change. She starts to cover canvases with gold, searching for the lost light found again thanks to art. “My father gave me the biggest gift: carry on the light. I'm close to geometric shapes and I covered them in gold. Everything has become chaotic and precise at the same time. Gold is not a simple color for me, I can reveal everything with it. Like crystalized honey, gold does not expire and has a spiritual value that is unmatchable. Every time I use gold leaf on canvas I feel at peace. The bee is the poetic symbol of mystery and intelligence. The renewal of life and wealth. The bees are rich in symbology in every ancient culture. It’s a noble animal and a hard worker, a controversial creature, sweet and tough. Like my father.
During his final years he built wooden houses for them with his hands. He used to paint them in different colors: yellow, blue, green and white. I remember particularly the yellow and white ones. Yellow makes me remember my childhood, carefree. White like the trail left by my first plane to Italy”.
Her vision of life changes, and while covered with gold, she continues to search for the true light. The world of fashion doesn't shine brighter any more; cracks and she realises how vapid was the life of lust. The memories return: her home, the bees, the honey, the sun of her childhood and the yellow of the fields where she used to run. In the difficult route to her deepness she finds herself again. Art have saved her, turning pain into liberation.
“Honey has another meaning to me. The sweetness and the amber color are sealed, like precious memories in glass jars. I see bees everywhere I go. I can feel my dad's presence in each and every one of them which is a glorious sensation. The name Fleuré is connected to flowers. Flowers give life to bees. They pick the nectar to create honey. Thanks to honey, they live and donate life to humans. The love between the bee and the flower is very deep. Bees are essential to ensure the maintenance of biodiversity of the planet. Nature is very clever”.
The bee has always been invested of the deepest and inexplicable mystery. For the ancients, bees were messengers that flew on the “way of light”, delivering messages from humans to gods. In Middle Eastern and Asian cultures they were considered winged “spirits of fire” and associated to purity. Bee in the Babylonian language was called “Dabar”, that means divine; bees possess a sacredness, as celestial messengers, that turn the sun into honey, the nectar of the gods.
It's interesting the parallelism between this extraordinary insect, honey, gold and light.
Gold derives from Latin word aurum that means shining. It is possible to consider Riné's paintings as the third phase of the alchemical work citrinitas, which is characterized by the elements of air, day and summer.
This is the hub of Riné's entire artistic production: the light.
Riné Fleuré is a transversal artist; contemporary yet at the same time she is the reflection of the heavy heritage of Russian traditions and history.
“When I miss my dad, I look at the light. I've been in several churches and cathedrals looking at the light through the windows. The window is a fundamental element in my artistic research. I design on golden leaf with the pencil directly on a canvas. It's magic is a mystery, an instinct connected to power, pure energy related to the divine that matches with the Sun. I was searching for the light and I've found it in my works. When I create I feel a nexus with the sacred world. My heart talks while my hand crafts”.
(Translated by Giovanni Brazzi)