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Secret Conversation on the Wing, 2004
Oil on canvas
35-1/2 x 27-1/2 in.
© Andrey Vereshagin 2004

Contemporary Russian Artists:
Paintings by Andrey Gorbatyuk,
Andrey Vereshagin, and
Roman Trofimov

February 2-26, 2005

Fine Arts Building Gallery
410 S. Michigan Avenue, 4th Floor
Chicago, IL 60606
Hours: Wed-Sat 12p-6p

Contemporary Russian Artists presents a stimulating blend of abstraction, expressionism and fantasy with a total of twenty-nine works by three contributing artists. Andrey Vereshagin (b. 1969) makes his premiere exhibition in the United States with fourteen works in oil. Vereshagin paints in minute detail a rationalized fantasy of towns, communities -- but what towns! Multi-level dwellings with a 16th-century air, whose innumerable tiny inhabitants live in high-boots side by side on a plain, wide-girthed trees stretching upward from still water, galleons suspended from colorful hot-air balloons, or, as in Secret Conversation On The Wing (oil on canvas: 35-1/2 x 27-1/2 in.: 2004), a rickety, improbable Tower-of-Babel of an airship, constructed entirely of wood. The restrained, predominantly ochre palette of his work adds to the vision of an antique time and place. This is art of the fantastic, rooted in an antiquarian vision -- Baron von Munchausen meets Breughel (whose influence the artist cites) -- and with a contemporary reference to the nature of homes, communities, and the rootlessness of much modern living, a continued thread of narrative the artist refers to as "The Stories of Col. Lopez". Available for viewing at the gallery, catalogues of other work show more of the artist's narrative fantasties as shadowed with a darker, more Boschian element.

The wide variety of subject and style in Roman Trofimov's seven works show this younger artist (b. 1975) engaged in an exploratory phase. Trofimov is also making his U.S. premiere with this exhibition. The artist employs vibrant hues and simplified form, the flat, matte use of oil on canvas adding to the reduction of image into shape and color. In Harlequin (oil on canvas), the taut, sinous lines of the crouching male angel with his curious gesture contrast with the dancing orange-and-red harmonies of the tile -- an intriguing blend of Byzantine icon, symbolistic content, and Art Deco's fascination with the geometric. Other of the artist's paintings place themselves elsewhere along the scale, some more realist, others more symbolist, all employing strong coloration and an element of dream-logic.

Andrey Gorbatyuk (b. 1957) has exhibited in the States before; this is his first exhibition in Chicago. Gorbatyuk presents eight works, abstractions with a figurative underlayer. Their dynamic movement of form and color bring fresh recollections of the 'newness' of this seeing back in the 1920s and 30s. Gorbatyuk approaches it with competence and sincerity; as in Landscape on K. Korro (oil on canvas), forceful strokes, painted with freedom and yet reveling in the disciplined energy of the underlying structure.

Three diverse styles that are, in the end, highly complementary. This is a satisfying exhibition. Contemporary Russian Artists will be at the Fine Arts Building Gallery through February 26, 2005.

The gallery also features an ongoing exhibition of works by member artists.

--Katherine Rook Lieber

Katherine Rook Lieber has edited ArtScope.net's Visual Arts reviews since 1998. Ms. Lieber is Editor and Associate Producer for ArtScope.net.

Editorial Note: Andrey Vereshagin, Roman Trofimov, and Andrey Gorbatyuk are also represented by RussianArtWeb.com (www.russianartweb.com), which includes artist biographies and images of additional works.

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