Sunday, December 18, 2011


How many times after a walk through NY galleries I wondered looking at my sketchbooks: why can I not do this in a different format? It seems and feels that my random, quick, thought-less sketchbook pages hold in the just exactly as much or as little what is needed in the modern universe - not too much, not too little - just right; nothing left. But page is page and book is a book - number of pages stitched together... so the story is different. It is not told or screamed or announced - it is read - by each viewer one by one.

Selected pages from recent books:

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Re-thinking series...

RE-thinking Pollock in NY, 24x24", 1997
In the middle of the 90's I found an old shower curtain in our studio building. It was old and had an interesting pink/yellow flowers design on it in the style of the 50s. After washing it and thinking about putting it in my shower I thought about relationships between time and shower... like anything else in our life showers have designs, shapes, colors and structures that come with each one + they are connected with time in another way - each person takes his own time on taking a shower... we rearly talk about them... showers are personal. ..somehow through all that thinking I came up with a series of painting in which in different settings famous people have been taking showers. Painting "Jackson Pollock Masturbating in the shower" was mentioned in a Boston Globe in such a way that I decided to destroy it...and the painting "Re-thinking Pollock in NY" happened... I loved the idea of connecting landscape with design of the wall (time message, interior/exterior) and a piece of art that would be recognizable. Other re-thinking paintings followed.. I do not have images of all of them, but here are three I found in my slides. Last week somebody asked me to paint a version of "RE-thinking Malevich in Moscow". While talking about it I realized that this work has a structure and options can be changed to fit. ARTIST + PLACE+ WEATHER+TIME+ HISTORY... 
I am thinking about working on this again putting more thought into the process...
Each artist has many geographical locations connected to him/her known to us by their biographies. Based on an artists personal background, religion, and place in Art History different kinds of messages can be included in each piece. ..

RE-thinking Malevich in Moscow, 46x48", 1996

RE-thinking Klein in Provincetown, 24x24", 1997

Saturday, October 29, 2011

New colors on new series

When this Summer ended I felt better and somewhat elated, as if just this one word SUMMER was hanging on my neck as some sort of  weight of something long gone and not anymore needed. Air was coming through a window and although the window still is on the first floor with wire barns on the street it was fresh and crisp. I don't know why.

I unpacked my stretchers that have been waiting for me since at least July, stretched canvases and primed them all in one day with at least two coats each.

I quickly started 4 new paintings. Something was wrong with the most of them. It will take me a few weeks to understand. Though they looked new and different from each other something in them was repeating itself making it impossible. All of them have been very blue.

Realizing that some two weeks later I came back to my blues and started working on them again. Consciously avoiding blues all together. I discovered that the reason my work often look so bright is because I mostly use primary colors only. Blue is the only one (except white) that I allow myself to use as an extra color; all kinds of it.

New pallet of greens and browns came out and like in my struggle with darkness long while ago black line helped tremendously. 

Untangle Sails oil on canvas 26x24"

Dark Night
He and Eyes
Friday Morning

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

verbal narrative in theatrical space

I  am finding interesting things... there was a time when I was writing so much in my head (may be it happened when my English reached the point I needed to be comfortable in the world) that each painting/drawing.anything I was actually looking at needed to be described and titled; only after that I will be able to "un-title" it, re-title it and visually create it.


Work has been often divided into sections which act more like sentences in the poem than pieces of cloth in quilt.

 Curtains started as pieces of other paintings, became see-through screen and came back to real curtains
Painting inside the painting, Landscape behind the window, table in the room... all those setting have been structures for my work than and in many ways still are. I just think I found a more intelligent, less decorative way for my dividers and spaces became more abstract and hard to describe or not needed to be described at all.

Sunday, September 18, 2011

Digging through my old sketchbooks

I have been saving my sketch books for years. I saved my diaries, which I used to have since the age 12, but those all got confiscated when we immigrated, because it was still time that for unclear reason anything handwritten was forbidden to leave the country. I often miss my last Russian diary. It was rather a hand-written book with a main character being "My Imagination". It would say, f.e.: "...and than my imagination went to bed". It will be almost 20 years later I will discover Life?orTheater? by Charlotte Salomon.

Preparing a syllabus for "Breaking the Boundaries" intensive workshop I thought about how to give examples of an art process to students, because before you "break the boundaries" you have to create them or at least find them. For that you have to discover your own creative process. The Creative Habit by Twyla Tharp was useful, but I wanted something hands-on. So I realized that I have all those books of mine. .. Hard cover with often more writing than paintings they are a process of my thinking. I picked up on eof my first American sketch book, dated 08/91-10/92. It says SKETCHBOOK 5A. I am not sure what 5A stands for.

Looking through the book I discovered an interesting clear transition from Russian suprematism to sexual expressionism. And I saw through the pages how naturally it happened... There is a poem (in Russian) that I am trying to write all the way through the book. It also illustrates this transition from clear geometrical structure to childish uncontrolled desire and physical expression.

So, here comes this clear, geometrical composition standing between black square itself, theater set and geometrical minimalism, touching all three.

Further in the book, you can find drawings that are transitional between geometrical decorative ala 1930's designs with curve lines and words often as a part of the drawing:

Words inside the drawing on the lower right are "Russia with Bad Luck".
Unfinished Russian poem on the left says:  Inside the blue turned up side down square of of a human noise a crowd of old points of view has been walking inside the crowd through rivers, gardens and bridges...

With a poetry about transition, motion and descriptive organic shapes straight and edgy lines turn around, bind, connect softly... circles replace squares.

Sunday, August 28, 2011

Looking around and looking back

A Trip To The Village

Her blue shoes had not been shined for months, and when he came from the shower, wearing a long bathrobe with silver stars all over it, she had already packed all her belongings into a small yellow suitcase that she kept under their bed all this time.

She kissed him good night and reminded him to turn off the stove. She got up, adjusted her jacket and lit a cigarette. She ran down the stairs, holding the yellow suitcase in one hand and the cigarette in the other. She thought about the Moon, the Milky Way, and the silver stars, and the village of her childhood.  At the front door, she realized that she forgot her umbrella, but there was no time to go back now, the train was leaving in fifteen minutes.

She was going to the village to shine her blue shoes! When the train took off, she decided to brush her teeth. She met her reflection in a small round mirror above the sink. A woman in her early thirties, a toothbrush in one hand, wearing a jacket and a pair of old Levi’s, a few pimples, soft pinky cheeks, silver tips beginning to show in her dark curly hair, stared at her. She flushed the bubble gum and brushed her teeth. She was tired and fell asleep in her compartment.

 The train took off and began slowly picking up speed. She was getting closer to the village! She thought about the gas station over there, in the village. Almost every boy wanted to work at the gas station, or maybe at the fire station when he would grow up. She dreamed of gas and fire, and her childhood, and Mom’s old house. It always smelled like diesel for her in this little village.

Early in the morning, the rain started behind her ribbed compartment window. When she opened her gray eyes, the rumbling of the wheels gradually faded, but the strong smell of her childhood village was now all over her. She looked under the bed and saw the small yellow suitcase covered with thick layers of dust. The sound of lost birds was coming from under the bathroom door. It suddenly stopped and she looked around wondering. And then he came from the shower holding her shined blue shoes in his hands. Long bath robe with silver stars all over it and shiny blue shoes in his hands reminded her of the Moon and the Milky Way, and the smell of a burned stove reminded her of a little village, where she grew up, where it always smelled like diesel.

He kissed her good morning and reminded her to brush her teeth.
She got up, adjusted her nightgown and lit a cigarette. She realized that he forgot to turn off the stove, but there was no time to go back now, the train was leaving in fifteen minutes.

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

What is beauty for me?

Once upon a time, drinking strong Russian tea  I stated that "my art is a mixture of autobiography, symbolism and philosophy". My intense relationship with these three words, autobiography, symbolism and philosophy became a spine of my  image-making process. This definition is a "cats cradle"- one thought connects to another, becomes confusing  and needs an immediate transformation, re-interpretation and later - disconnection. Once taken off the fingers the cradle can  transform into one thick and straight line of thought.  One of the isms my personal iconography, self-stylization and my approach to everyday life is a category of Romantics .... with a psychological twist.With the help of grace, inspiration and self-assurance  I create new, personal iconography the indispensable element of which is the connection between life and art -  my life and my art.

 Romanticism creates and cultivates a new repertoire of images, characters and places they live in. However, there is a crucial paradox in Romantic image making: It is a self-conscious process and it is the image of personality, private character that sets up a mechanism that sets it in motion. In the 70's Philip Guston stated that his work is "image ridden".
  I still want to believe in strength and truth of purity, beauty and freedom.

purity = autobiography
simbolism = symbolism
freedom = philosophy

Of course beauty is relevant. But just believing in it makes all the difference in the world.

Here are a few images that from my point are pure, symbolic and free = beautiful.

Still from movie Stalker by Andrei Tarkovski, Russia, 1970's
Full Moon on Friday night photographed from Brooklyn Bridge

Fra Abgelico The Saint, XIV century

Monk by the Sea, Caspar David Friedrich

Black Square, Kasimir Malevich, 1915