Volkova Yelena A. was born into a Ukrainian working-class family in Chuguyev, a town near Kharkov. She was fond in girlhood of moulding pitchers, cups and saucers of clay, and of embroidery. She was a nurse during the war, and it was not until her fifties that she essayed painting in oils on canvas and cardboard. She paints, without any preliminary draughtsmanship, from memory or imagination. Feeling that her knowledge of the basics of art were inadequate, she enrolled as a student in ZNUI, the Extra-mural People’s University of Art in Moscow, where, incidentally, she now lives as an old-age pensioner together with her artist son.
Her favourite themes are still-lifes and scenes of popular festivities, which appear from a distance. like colourful mosaics. Her ZNUI classes scarcely modified her artistic concepts and aesthetic attitudes, which derive from her small-town upbringing and are largely influenced by peasant morals and mores. In her works nature lives, which is why her still-lifes are not really inanimate; the objects depicted are tangible and the manner of their presentation on canvas or cardboard is as down-to-earth as the objective set to reproduce the surrounding environment. The colours employed are bright, gay, and well-demarcated, and the objects depicted are modelled with loving detail. Volkova has been represented at Soviet Russia and USSR exhibitions and has also had a show exclusively of her own work.