ALL PALETTES GO TO HEAVEN
Vladimir Dubossarsky and Vladimir Potapov do not formulate a common statement, interacting in co-opposing views on the pictorial medium. However, both the extreme irony of the first author and the no less accentuated reflexivity of the second have a common denominator - the collision of the artist with the pictorial surface. Dubossarsky literalizes this metaphor by turning his own body into an imprint on the canvas; Potapov plunges into microlevels, converting the plane into depth. For both artists, the plane of the painting is the key space for action, but they approach it from diametrically different sides.
Dubossarsky believes that "modern painting exists as a hybrid", a product of the merging of forms that are genetically different. This is a fusion of cultural languages, whose diversity expands the range of possibilities, with a minimum of "program" obligations from the performer. Not rooted in any of the styles, gestures and practices, juggling with methods in the range from photorealism to abstraction, the modern painter can no longer pretend that he plays the role of a conceptualist, putting on this or that mask. Rather, his pathos is close to some kind of "new honesty", undisguised a declaration of love for the craft of a "classical artist" and a sensual contact with the material: "Conceptual painting emerged from captivity and bears its imprint. I want living painting, a break from killing the painter in myself all the time.
Vladimir Potapov, taking a stoic position as an apologist for painting as an actual practice, on the contrary, constantly tests it for strength. His painting is impossible without self-criticism, it constantly strives to expand its own field: to become an object, absorb the maximum spatial volume, turn into a total installation, ideally an optical machine into which the viewer is built as a key driving function.
The interaction of the two artists begins even before painting; from what, like a frame, is under it - photographs. According to Potapov, photography is "the chromosome of classical art", always containing the balance and harmony of traditional composition. But above all, photography for both authors is a mechanism for turning reality into a plane, the first stage of the procedure for "purifying" images, which is completed by painting.
Dubossarsky uses material taken by himself and then collaged. Based on the photo prototype, a new pictorial image is created, which can be guessed only in the choice of angle. The author abstracts and clears the found images from the visual "litter" of everyday life, crystallizes them, as if hanging them in the void – this practice is typical for Dubossarsky's solo work, in which he often refers to photos from social networks. Even now, in the niches along the perimeter of the hall, powerful three-meter "trunks" are branching, devoid of crowns and smoothed to a semi-abstraction.
In turn, Potapov, in a series of psychedelic retro palimpsests "Inside," refers to the anonymity of old, mostly Soviet, photos, exposing their contrasting texture flooded with artificial light to the limit. Old photographs and newspaper pages appear like phantoms through layers of acrylic enamel. The image is formed in the flicker, the gap between the photographic "bottom" and the picturesque surface.
05.12 - 13.01.2018
If Dubossarsky uses the power of the direct impact of the image, then Potapov is focused on the very mechanism of constructing the picture as a continuum. "Memory is a projection of time in its non-linear expression," says the artist. Depicting visions of the past in the form of newspaper photos (i.e., ready-made and highly mediated images), he places them at the very "bottom" of the pictorial plane, covering layer after layer with paint, like filters multiplying further mediation. But the author goes further - his paintings imitate the disintegration, bubbling of film. The picturesque surface appears as a liquid organic substance capable, like a chemical, of dissolving and corroding the original photographic imagery and at the same time blossoming with its own new life, like gasoline patterns on water. The viewer's gaze is likened to an autopsy, a dissection of a visible image, while the original image slips into fantasy. Realism is etched out of reality, only a flickering, ghostly world remains. The stratification of the figurative image marks a distrust of memory, capricious and whimsical, and after it - to "reality" itself.
But if Potapov at the exhibition appears in his usual role, then Dubossarsky includes in the exposition two newest and rather radical series for himself, each of which reveals his creative method in one way or another. One of the central works of the exhibition is a large-format triptych depicting a homeless woman sleeping in three different positions. The central part of the series is precisely a photograph, devoid of pictorial implantations. The artist presents the photo as a primary image that has yet to pass through the cleansing crucible of painting, which happens in the rest of the triptych, where the image is immersed under colorful layers, starting the life of the painting.
Finally, in the Textures series, Dubossarsky for the first time in his practice presents a series of self-portraits with a palette in the form of prints on canvas of his own half-naked body, covered with paint. This is not a semi-abstract sign of the body, as Yves Klein once did, but a fairly detailed print or, in other words, a photograph taken with plastic means. Contact with the canvas occurs directly, without the mediation of mediums - both photographic and pictorial, which are replaced by touch, a physical gesture. Under the author's ironic and not even mocking message, however, quite classical modernist problems emerge: the limits of pictorial possibilities through the radicalization of the effects of the author's "presence", the direct transmission of experience, the miraculousness of the image.
So, in Potapov's interpretation, the pictorial surface is the concentration of the experience of experiencing reality in its complexity. The formula of the pictorial surface from Dubossarsky can rather be formulated from the opposite: it is a way of direct and concise expression through the image. In both versions, disembodiing reality, painting becomes the only possible tool for translating the experience of experiencing it. After all, "the colorful layer never lies."