Irina Starzhenetskaya belongs to the generation of young artists from the 1970s. These painters introduced a new style and aesthetic into Soviet painting as along with their own vision of history and modern life. A graduate of the Surikov Institute and a student of the “Soviet impressionist” Alexei Gritsai and “Soviet neoclassicist” Dmitry Zhilinsky, she went beyond her teachers in freedom of expression. Her wild and free painting is tempered by a subtle and accurate application of colour; and ennobled by a series of deep cultural references.
In her work Irina combines two essential layers of Russian culture, and by overlapping and juxtaposing familiar motifs she has developed an individual artistic style. On the one hand, there are motifs from the Russian avant-garde; its search for colour experiments with form. On the other hand, it is possible to trace the traditions of ancient Russian monumental painting: the capacious expressiveness of symbolism with a bold domination of space.
In the late 1970-s, Irina Starzhenetskaya, along with her husband, sculptor Anatoly Komelin, settled in Tarusa, having their house and the summer studio there. Over the years, both artists have taken part in the restoration and decoration of various Orthodox Russian churches: the Church of the Resurrection of Christ and the Cathedral of Peter and Paul in Tarusa, and the temple of the Small Ascension on B.Nikitskaya Street in Moscow. In these works they have tried to get closer to the artistic canons of the Orthodox Church.
Irina Starzhenetskaya's works are part of numerous public and private collections. She is exhibited in the following state galleries: Tretyakov gallery (Moscow), Russian Museum (St Petersburg), Glinka Museum of Music (Moscow), Museum of Moscow History (Moscow), MMOMA (Moscow), Museum Ludwig (Cologne), Neue Gallerie (Aachen), Slovak National Gallery (Bratislava), as well as state art galleries in Vologda, Ivanovo, Omsk, Tomsk, Yaroslavl. She is also exhibited in private collections in the UK, US and Europe.