Contemporary Russian Art


Sergey was born in 1952 in the town of Ananyev in the Odessa region (nowadays Ukraine). In 1975, he graduated from the Moscow Aviation Institute as an engineer but decided to become an artist. While working at the State Tretyakov Gallery and in the VDNKh exhibit center, he was learning art from prominent Soviet non-conformist masters of the 1960s generation, such as Anatoly Zverev (1931-1986), Marlen Shpindler (1931-2003) and Igor Vulokh (b.1938). Later he worked as an art critic with several Moscow galleries.

In 1989, Sergey joined the painting section of the UNESCO International Artists Federation. He became member of the Moscow Union of Artists in 2000.

From 1988, Sergey has regularly exhibited his works. Most notably, he participated in the exhibits National Traditions and Postmodernism in the State Tretyakov Gallery in Moscow in 1993, Abstract Art in Russia: The Twentieth Century in the State Russian Museum in St. Petersburg in 2001 and Moscow Abstraction: Second Half of the 20th Century in the State Tretyakov Gallery in Moscow in 2003, Collage in Russia: the 20th Century in the State Russian Museum in St. Petersburg in 2005. He also participated in the international project Sewers of the World, Unite!

His works are held in the State Russian Museum in St. Petersburg, the Moscow Museum of Modern Art, as well as in private collections in Russia, USA, Germany, Italy, Canada, Spain, Switzerland and other countries.

by Victoria Khan-Magomedova of the National Center for Contemporary Arts, Moscow, Russia

The art of Sergey Sokolov is more of an experience and experiment than verification and actualization. A ritualistic and mysterial character of his works gives them a particular quality – a temporary continuity. Undoubtedly, Sokolov is an artist of evening and night. A somber solemnity is heard in the tragic pallet of purplish and brownish hues intensified by the deep black. All the elements are elegant, commensurate, and beautiful. Everything in them is calculated; nothing is approximate. Some of them are reminiscent of subtle exercises in style. There is a duality in everything. Sometimes the artist seems to create a world founded on the laws of logic and reason; sometimes this world abruptly explodes and chaos and disorder prevail as if the artist wanted the beholder to realize that the world is neither good nor bad and nothing can be changed.

If order and rational foundations has brought our civilization to the brink of catastrophe then the time has come for disorder to organize chaos. But even that turns out to be an illusion. Strange physical transformations, transfusions, evaporations, leaks, emanations, disappearances, changes and growth seem to take place in Sokolov’s works as if some energy was being released from within the canvases creating space and “breathing.” This is art sensitive to the modulations of the inner and outer atmosphere. This is a “living” organism whose diverse components, integrated into the pictorial substance, create a material texture, which is corroded and subjected to erosion and transformed into spiritual symbols. Someone seems to be breathing under this “skin” trying to penetrate and comprehend in a new way the initial indissoluble bond between art and being. The light filtering in from behind the “looking glass” of the canvas helps to establish a mystical link between Sokolov’s works and the environment.

The artist continues to develop the theme of the window stumbling upon new interpretations and modifications of this complex and polysemantic notion. If in Ivan Chuikov’s works the window frame is quite real and invites you to enter the illusion, Sokolov’s frame is illusory; sometimes it is denoted, other times it is implied. His “windows” do not hint at what happens in some enclosed space or outside. This enigmatic, spatial-temporal, plastic art notion of window-wall-door leads to the past, or the future, or inside itself, or to a different reality, a different dimension.

Nonetheless Sokolov’s works are neither esthetically appealing, painterly abstract compositions built on impeccable and refined gradations of color, nor conceptual “effusions.” Whatever the artist creates – paintings, objects, collages – his works speak essentially of the quest for a new identity; of the renewal of painting by the strengthening of the notion of the sublimated, effectuated with complete freedom and independence; of the revision of traditions based on references to collective memory.

Sokolov’s paintings/objects are manifestations of a sharp mind, a high plastic art culture, a peculiar vision of the artist who has not only meticulously studied the discoveries of the international avant-garde but has also been able to reexamine the modernist heritage in an original and creative manner and to find his own way of renewal of artistic language which opens new prospects in contemporary art.

Translated from the Russian by Russian Art Gallery

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