Olga Chernysheva was born in 1962 in Moscow. She grew up in Moscow and in Damascus, Syria, and trained to become a maker of animated films at Moscow’s Institute of Cinematography (formerly the All-Union State Institute of Cinematography). She also studied at the Rijksakademie van Beeldende Kunsten in Amsterdam.
Animation, as a way of bringing everything around us to life, has remained an important principle in her work, as has the metaphorical visual language of classic Soviet filmmakers such as Alexander Dovzhenko and Sergei Eisenstein. Chernysheva also relates to other movements in art history. Her work in different media – including drawing, painting, photography, video and very short essays combined with still or moving images – is based on close observation of the reality around her. It continues a long tradition of social realism in Russian culture (very different from the Socialist Realism that was the official artistic doctrine of the USSR) and of art as a vehicle for critical and compassionate narrative (which can also be formally bold and experimental). Her approach to art and life is both formally sophisticated and subtly humorous. One of her sources of inspiration (and the topic for her diploma work at the film academy) is the work of the military officer and painter Pavel Fedotov (1815–1852), who has been called ‘the Russian Hogarth’.
Chernysheva's recent solo exhibitions include "Autoradio", Foxy Production, New York (2018); “Ordered Equivocations”, Kohta, Helsinki (2018); “Chandeliers in the Forest”, Secession, Vienna (2017–2018); “Algunas Canciones Lindas”, curated by Anders Kreuger, Temnikova & Kasela, Tallinn (2017); “Cactus Seller and Others”, DIEHL, Berlin (2017); “Vague Accent”, curated by Nova Benway, The Drawing Center, New York (2016); “Keeping Sight”, Muhka, Museum of Contemporary Art Antwerp; Pace Gallery, London (2014–2015).
Chernysheva represented Russia at the Venice Biennale in 2001, and participated in the 57th Venice Biennale, curated by Okwui Enwezor, in 2015. Her works have been shown in numerous group exhibitions including “Workers”, Tate Modern, London (2019); “Wild Flowers (wildness is contextual!) – Volume II (grow flowers!)”, curated by Carlos Noronha Feio, Galerie Iragui, Moscow (2018); “Revolution Every Day”, Smart Museum of Art, The University of Chicago; “The Travellers: Voyage and Migration in New Art from Central and Eastern Europe”, curated by Magdalena Moskalewicz, KUMU Art Museum, Tallinn (2017); Manifesta 11, “What People do for Money: Some Joint Ventures”, Zurich; “The Travellers”, Zacheta National Gallery of Art, Warsaw (2016). In 2013 and 2014, she taught at the Salzburg International Summer Academy.