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Sergey Sovkov & Sergey Inkatov & Nikola Zverev

Sergey Sovkov & Sergey Inkatov & Nikola Zverev

Sergey Sovkov

Sergey Sovkov managed to create a whole world of his talent in painting. The artist closely observes the circle of events and facts of our life. Sovkov interprets reality as the unity of plurality: the surface of his canvas is «built» of separate outlined strokes. This manner, close to the technique of «cloisonne», allows the artist to show all the richness of tones of visible spectrum and emphasize uniqueness of every touch of a brush. Thus, the most delicate transformations of color and shade are highlighted among the mixture of colors. Uncovering design composed, the painter coats a canvas with strokes of a palette knife. With the help of these artistic means, the author can depict not only Savior-on-Blood (for example, his «Temple»), but anything visible or imaginary. For better understanding of the method of creating a painting «piece-by-piece» it is enough to look at the «Self-portrait» — a picture inside the picture.

Any subject or situation, refracted in the eyes of S. Sovkov, becomes an original event, or even some kind of micro world. In his time, Michael Vrubel had also taken interest in such retrospection in subjects, facts and dreams, but in the art work of S. Sovkov it reached its heights. Similarity of his method to the art of stained glass helped some Italian artist to suggest a name for this style — «di vetro».

S. Sovkov is a brilliant graphic artist, who works with soft material and pastel. But still, his paintings are definitely worth saying. The painter pays great attention to a preliminary drawing. One can observe that his paintings, regardless of a divisionary manner, are always well balanced: inner structure and though out composition lines always form the basis of the work. Social theme — is one of the most important in the world-view of S. Sovkov, as well as in his art work. Thoughtful observer and philosopher of an everyday life, he finds his stories on the streets and in a cramped little flat, in a yard and on a staircase landing. Sketches of life of a modern society vividly illustrate the values of the 21st century. It is notable that the author brings the particle «not» in the names of his paintings. It serves a direct indication of denial of the former ideals of humanity, down to controversy with the Holy Scripture. Figurative titles of the works do not need additional commentaries: «Not the Holy Trinity», «Not the Last Supper», «Not a Penitent Maria», «Not the Mighty Handful», «Angels do not live here anymore».

For the artist, young generation became the main representative of «now and today». But his attitude is rather controversial: extremely unpleasant sides of life in such paintings as «Drug Addict» (or «Tomorrow doesn't come»), «Seagull», «Return of a Prodigal Son», are compensated with life-asserting power of other canvases — «Guys and Stars», «Day of the City», «On a Race». Range of colors as the best representative of an ideologic side of the works, varies from obscure and gloomy to vivid and optimistic. But if in «Girls» and «Smarty Pants» one can trace an irony or even sarcasm in the position of the author, in «Ето-girl» reflective and sad look of the model makes it difficult to judge her strictly. The painting «April» presents itself as a hymn of a modern youth: young man, who never parts with his earphones, holds a bouquet of roses in his hand — a sign that feelings and the ways of their expression stay the same at all the times. So, what can we judge this guy for? Thus, S. Sovkov becomes an objective illustrator of the «book of life». Indeed, young generation welcomes outrageous behavior and freethinking, denies rules and publicly neglects «fathers' holdovers», just like at times of Turgenev. Of course, their permissiveness goes too far sometimes, but it is their mistakes and experience. Still, this generation is not hopeless: it did not reject traditions, but reconsidered it, having brought its own values, giving society a new course of development. Why would we a priori criticize this proposed pathway? As a romantic soul, Sovkov renders the beauty that inspired all artists at all the times: perfection of natural forms and aesthetics of human body. It is amazing, how oppositely can one manner be aimed! Not less amazing is an expressiveness of the works of different genres. Flower compositions and landscapes of S. Sovkov are especially charming. Lots of separate brush strokes add velvetiness and volume to the flowers, and enrich with whispering tenderness every petal in such masterpieces as «White Peonies», «Blooming Mellow», «Three Sword Lilies», etc.

Another popular genre for the painter is nude, where the play of colors and light-and-shade reaches its peak. The technique of separate stroke accentuates the richness of the spectrum, accessible only for the eye of an artist («By the Sea», «Paul»).

As a poet and a creator, S. Sovkov brings into life paintings-allegories. Their images do not lose connection with figurative painting, but at the same time, possess some romantic hopefulness. The author reveals himself as an incomparable colorist in such works as «Love and Passion», «Secret Date», «Ruby Friday», «Dream Catcher».

For every creation Sovkov chooses its own degree of incommensurability with natural tones: from realistic smoothness to absolute ornamentality. Aside from its direst aesthetic function, the color is always a representative of a particular mood of the author. Diversity of genres in the creative work of S. Sovkov is the best evidence of the omnitude of his artistic manner.

Ekaterina Goudze

Sergey Inkatov

Sergey Inkatov is an artist that seems to be naturally united with his paintings. Southern blood serves the best explanation for his emotional art work. Path of a future painter was defined by his father, who also became his first teacher and guide. Then proceeded years of private master-classes and studies at the Art School of Baku. Most probably, it is then that the unique style of the artist was formed. And it is in his native Baku, where one should look for the origins of an irrepressible expression of his canvases. Change of a scenery that came with his move to Tver and Venetsianov Art School, marked another period of a skill development. Finally, the artist became mature enough to face the world of a professional painter on his own. And the city, that greeted him on this new step, was Tallinn.

Sometimes the world built with a brush of an artist looks just like what we see around us. And sometimes characters and things exist in an imaginary dimension, created by an author. S. Inkatov prefers the second way. Trying to avoid evanescence, the artist picks quite tangible subjects, arranging them according to his artistic intuition. Thus, an almost indescribable creation is born. We see a composition that borrows means of expression from an applique work, stained glass and German expressionism. That is a basis of an inimitable rhythm-and-color design of the oeuvres of S. Inkatov. The art work of Inkatov is as multi-sided as the forms, depicted by him. Following one stylistic line the painter manages to find special approaches to every genre: brightness and sharpness for still-lives, combination of geometrical forms for urban landscapes, dynamic strokes for abstract compositions. Works of the artist picturing a man show features of the genre. They produce emotional and visual unison, harmonizing fantastic and real. For example, in the painting «Evening» an alternative world comes to life combining imagination and skill of the author.

Still-lives by S. Inkatov attract by their vividness and daring spirit. Sapful stains of pomegranates, lemons and pears lay on a table. The artist «builds» the composition, finding each bright item its place and balancing the whole image. Highly contrasting with a background, they cast reflexes on surrounding items, bringing together all the pieces.

S. Inkatov tends to accentuate the silhouettes of the subjects, reaching an effect of an applique art. His still-lives and urban landscapes perfectly illustrate this method. Architecture of a city is viewed by the artist as a combination of separate plain wall surfaces, roof and dome slopes. In the paintings «Journey to a City» and «Old City» fantastic masses of geometrical figures produce a feeling of its weightlessness and toylike nature. Urban landscapes of S. Inkatov are frequently concentrated on notional and compositional center, for example, on a tower or a temple dome. Thus, a strong pivot merges from a variety of mixed forms that begin to gain order and significance. In such paintings as «After Rain», «White Temple», «Toll», the author conveys the way in which the temple architecture can unite calm spirituality and rhythmical roof and wall lines.

With the help of scarcely perceptible shades of colors and forms, S. Inkatov highlights individuality of the cities of Tallinn («The Quay»), Baku («The City of Childhood»), Strasbourg, and Venice («Twilight in Venice», «Memories»). Thanks to this approach, a spectator has a chance to percept these places through the eyes of the artist.

Romantic spirit and predilection for rendering movement and dynamics became a source for a series of peculiar marines: «Yellow Regatta», «Sails», «Regatta», etc. The artist never depicts sailing vessels as a passive onlooker. They reflect his particular emotional state: quietly floats a «Yellow Fleet»; «Sails» remind of shark dorsals; in «Regatta» one can observe a competition for speed; and the «Quay» is decorated for a festival.

Using silhouette forms and constructive approach S. Inkatov gradually deforms and ruins fineness of an image. Firstly, a spectator is forced to look at familiar subjects through a distorting curtain. Then, these subjects are turned into a pieceless flow of imagination. This is the way «А Dream», «Return» and «Moonlight» were created. In this tangle of colors we would rather feel the artist's message than understand it in our mind. Tenebrous and cold gamut of colors in the canvases of S. Inkatov is tellingly enlivened with bright strokes. Flashes of inimitable colors blaze like precious stones — crimson, emerald, azure, sapphirine, and amber. Coloristic expression is emphasized by a particular configuration of hues. An artistic manner of the painter is also worth a separate word. Pastous brush strokes intersect, glide over the surface of a background and melt into a new sounding of colors. The artist pays much attention to a specific character of material, developing various strokes to emphasize the texture. Divisionary and short dabs mould the fruit, and constructive and rough strokes model the architecture. Flowing strokes are perfect for draperies, and soft and delicate ones — for flowers.

Figurative and daring artistic manner — that is what generates powerful and thoughtful works of S. Inkatov. Depicted subjects, as well as his painting in whole, are always tangible, no matter how many dimensions they present. The works of S. Inkatov reflect a unique approach to a coloristic and formal design of a painting.

Ekaterina Goudze

Nikola Zverev

The first personal exhibition of Nikola Zverev, an artist from St. Petersburg, took place in 1977 — so he states in his biographical letter. Those were the times of reaction, the period of difficulties for free arts. It appeared to be the result of the first successful large-scale exhibitions of nonconformist art (Gaz Cultural Center in 1974 and «Nevskiy» Cultural Center in 1975). The government responded by «turn of the screw» that resulted into a tragic emigration of many artists. But fresh and new artistic movements, on the contrary, became more established in the nonconformist culture. They experienced convincing example of a free artwork and a struggle for the accessibility to the public. There was also a risk of being outshined by heroic «Gaz and Nevskiy» movement. Though, the «second wave» strikingly declared itself by organization of new groups, circles and also many independent artists that blended in with the nonconformist culture. Nikola Zverev became one of the most prominent figures of the «second wave». Art-critique Natalia Barova noted in an album of a personal exhibition of the artist: «The personality of Nikola Zverev gained more and more attraction, he was nice and popular, individualistic and inimitable» (this exhibition almost clashed with the 30th anniversary of the legendary first exhibition). The exposition showed strong basics of his art as well as its time transformation.

Portrait of contemporaries is the main genre in the creative work of Nikola Zverev. Such is his personal opinion and so consider his numerous fans among native amateurs of contemporary art. We also toe in line, for not only a great number of works in this genre but heartful and intellectual background of every portrait support this opinion. The artist determines his credo as «looking behind the face», which is not just a declaration, but a manner of work, of which the most important part is the inner one. On a canvas we only are able to see its result, an aftersound captured on the surface. But this seen part allows to imagine the «hidden side of an iceberg» and to feel a fundamental strength of every image. Of course, the majority of the portraits depict people well acquainted with the artist. And that is the imperishable significance of the face of generation by Nikola Zverev. Most importantly, they are not just interesting characters. Among them many are well-known representatives of the history of Leningrad Underground: artists Vladlen Gavrilchik, Vladimir Ovchinnikov, Yuriy Lyukshin, Valentin Afanasiev, Vladimir Lisunov, Kirill Miller; photographer Valentin Samarin; writers Vladimir Nesterovskiy, Arcadiy Bartov; art-critiques, collectors of contemporary art and exhibition organizers Yuriy Novikov, Zhora Mikhailov, Yuriy Gogolitsin, Victor Lavrov, Lyudmila Flyash, Larisa Ulitina... On the portraits they are quite recognizable form the first glace. (There were times when an important criterion for an unprepared spectator was «first, to paint life-like and than experiment with «abstractions»). But it is not about photographical resembling — it's about generalization of characterizing features: face expression, gesture, pose and dress style. In everyday life these aspects reflect the character of a person, his inner world. But it is artist's task to combine all of them in one single image (it is impossible for photography). Nikola Zverev tends to summarize an impression of a person and to «look behind his face». Since the old days, a psychological portrait dominated in Russian art because of its attention to the inner world of a man. This kind of painting Nikola unites with a representative portrait — front-face image and symbolic attributes, as in the old portraits (balls in «General's Wife», bats in «Publican», dead tree in «Medium»). Attributes serve not only as signs of social position or occupation, but as an additions to the image helping to reveal its meaning. Working in the genre of psychological portrait the artist develops his means of expressiveness in plasticity, color, texture and form, creating his individualistic and recognizable manner and original technique. Combination of contrasting vivid line and unemotional rhythmical structures produces an «effect of a poster» emphasized by cold coloration. Line and color reflect the character of a person. Fanciful ornament on the face of «Mushroom Picker» reminds of brush strokes of an artist Evgeniy Zhavoronkov, portrayed on this picture. Flamboyant «Cossak» renders vivid temperament of Viktor Lavrov. It must be mentioned that among other artistic means of the author the names of the masterpieces play an important role. They appear to be «wordy portraits» — short and succinct. Expressive but rather «machinery» abstract background does not distract attention from an image but merges with it in color and rhythm (for example, in «Philosopher»). Sometimes the artist places a character into a special surrounding, creating an artistic space «between genres» (portraits «Comedy Actor», «Collector», «City», «Palmist», «Ambavert»). These works reveal the author's potential in the genres of landscape and interior.

Indeed, Nikola Zverev do not work only with portraits. He also creates «portraits of trees», or, as he calls it, «associative landscapes». These canvases, filled with primitive symbolism, bring out reminiscence of the times of Druids. He also paints «contemplative landscapes» where decorativeness makes ordinary subjects an evanescent result of contemplation. And finally, the artist works in an invented genre of «Tahizdms», that signifies secret twists of a soul. It is similar to the nu genre, but it doesn't perform nude female body, — just collective erotic reflexions. Ornamentally treated, they gain symbolic meaning, looking similar to a panel painting, carpet design or minting. Name of this series suggests it as a display of unconscious instincts. Recalling doctor Freud, it illustrates a sublimation of forbidden energies, libido, in art. It is interesting to note, that the portraits of Nikola Zverev can also be viewed as a «sublimation» of even more hidden depths of a soul. Treating a portrait as an attempt to penetrate into unconscious of the Other, it appears to be a mental and instinctive psychoanalysis. Engraved on a canvas, it contains variants of most unexpected interpretations. May be, this is the reason why contemporary artists rarely turn to the portrait, and few of them dare to concentrate their art work on this genre. In recent times, when paintings were being ordered, portraits of rulers and leaders were produced in high quantities. Nowadays, prospers the craft of a street portrait. Among nonconformist artists that followed the dictates of their hearts, very few were constantly working in the portrait genre. To these belonged Nikola Zver (he signed his works in such a provocative manner — «Zver» means «Beast». It is merely a coincidence that one of the greatest portraitists of Moscow Underground also bore this last name). Among the artists of «Gaz and Nevskiy» the most remembered are the experiments of Yuriy Zharkikh, suite of «Parsuna» by Vladlen Gavrilchik, «salon» portraits by Evganiy Abezgauz... Nikola Zverev as a representative of the following wave of nonconformist culture, considerably strengthened this genre in free art and continues this work at present time.

Nikolay Blagodatov

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