signed V. Koshlyakov and titled (verso)
oil on canvas
80 x 70 cm
Property from the Estate of Doris B. Holleb, Chicago, Illinois
Price on request
"The Nord Sitti" is a painting made by one of the most notorious and distinguished Russian artists of our time, Valery Koshlyakov. It is noteworthy that the work is painted in oil on canvas, although Koshlyakov is best known for his creative experiments with non-traditional, unusual materials such as foam, tape, cardboard, garbage bags, etc. However, the peculiarity of the talent of this amazing artist is that despite the variety of means and forms of self-expression, in all the works of Koshlyakov there is a certain unity, harmony and manifestation of a unique style, his artistic manner. He clearly follows his creative vision and personal cultural ideology, always imbuing his work with eternally relevant topics: questions about the past, present and future. Even those temporary works that the artist created for specific museums and galleries across the world, the so-called site-specific projects, contain a certain ephemeral quality, confronting the viewer with the topic of eternal and transitory. Despite the recurrently extraordinary and unexpected solutions to spatial challenges in his works, Koshlyakov always above all cherish the traditional technical artistic skill and the wealth of the history of painting. This "base", which encompasses knowledge of the history of art and professional attitude to the craft of the painter, seem to support Valery Koshlyakov's work, making it more thoughtful and worthy enough to be seen as a continuation of the great tradition of painting in the history of art among many other significant classics. In fact, Koshlyakov began his artistic career with copying the prominent masters and with a sincere admiration for the rich history of painting in the 1980s, then plunged into the stormy and shocking avant-garde, replacing canvases with cardboard and oil with tempera, but has recently returned to a more traditional approach to painting. The artist himself explains this by saying that "I wanted to go back to the times when talking to the viewer through painting was the usual language of art".
In the painting "The Nord Sitti", as well as in the other Koshlyakov's works, the viewer can recognise the influence of such legendary personalities of modern art as American artist and great innovator Robert Rauschenberg and a German artist, Anselm Kiefer, whose visual language of painting is reminiscent of the style presented in "The Nord Sitti". In general, Koshlyakov has been compared to Kiefer on some numerous occasions by art critics. There is a sense of "fragility", heterogeneity, a feeling of a collage, which all make this work evocative of Rauschenberg; a certain effect of the ripped narrative which is created by fragmentation, blurred brushstrokes and leaking paint. At the same time, this manner brings dynamism to the picture - a violent splash of feelings, movement, but also can be perceived as a trace of the impact of life - all erased, washed off, destroyed like paint on canvas. This dual combination is a special poetics of Valery Koshlyakov's works. The artist himself talked about the connection of time and space in his works as follows: "I am engaged in a pure terrible category which is inaccessible to a human - the tragedy of death, decline. Here it was, yesterday, but not today. A person carries this drama all his life, and everything is dedicated to it - does not matter whether we are talking about Greek ruins or your Soviet personal life, which turns into dust, your memory, health, everything. Eternal human theme. And my paintings are metaphors of this idea. Like mourners". There is also a certain decorative imprint in the painting; a legacy acquired, perhaps, during Koshlyakov's studies at the faculty of scenography and his work as a decorator in the Theatre of Musical Comedy in Rostov at the very beginning of the career. A perfect harmony exists between the painting's title which means "The Northern City" and cool shades of deep blue and bright white that dominate the work's palette. The sense of dynamics which had been mentioned above is also expressed through the composition: in some sense it can be perceived as bird's-eye view, creating the effect that the viewer hovers in a space separated from reality. The imagination of the artist played a significant role at the very beginning of his acquaintance with painting when he drew from black and white postcards of mediocre quality, which depicted the masterpieces of the world of art. Those details that the future artist could not physically see were invented by him thus creating new versions of these famous artworks. In the same way with the architectural monuments, which occupy a dominant position in the art of Valery Koshlyakov - the artist always creates his phantasmagoria, immersing the viewer in the world of his own fantasies. Sublime spatial point of view reflects a lofty theme which is once again exploited by the artist. Koshlyakov's works, whether it be Soviet architectural constructions, ancient ruins of Pompeii and other disappeared civilisations or installation of the semi-destroyed house made from plasterboard, always begin a dialogue with the viewer about the past and the present. Through his works, the artist is looking for a form of expression of disappearing images of the great empires-whether Soviet or Roman and exploring the scale of the human figure in relation to the outcomes of our existence in the ruthless flow of time.