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Valery Koshlyakov

September 16 - October 25, 2009

The Unreachable project marks an unintentional jubilee. Approximately ten years ago, Valery Koshlyakov introduced the term iconus into the lexicon of contemporary art, paving the way for what has possibly become his most important artistic theme.

Koshlyakov's act of inventing the iconus actually proved to be far more eloquent than any of his numerous explanations of his creative creed. In a certain sense, this theme helped the artist to overcome the diktat of such trademark media as fluting, sellotape and polyethylene, which at one point were virtually the only criteria for validating his creative efforts.
Over ten years, the iconus has been tried and tested using all accessible materials, evolving from a conceptual room-size mock-up to an object-allegory Ц an instrument of metaphorical construction for Koshlyakov's interventions in reality.

The iconus is a formological resume of the "palatial painting" or architectural "side-wings" in an Orthodox icon. It arose as a result of Koshlyakov's investigations into the principles of spatial constructions in conditions of reverse perspective. Forming the compositional context of the icon image, the "palatial painting" Ц like the hills in the landscape Ц is the most dependent, in the representational sense, on the laws of reverse perspective.

This is where the entire range of perspective distortions is concentrated, transformed into the quintessence or main criterion of "reversibility". Instantly incarnating all imaginable points of visual perception, the "palatial" image breaks down the traditional architectural mass, turning it into a pure symbol, a meta-object. The artist liberates the fragments of the "palatial painting" from the contextual autonomy of the primary source, granting them the rights of independent and complete plastic magnitudes, endowed with the potential of another dimension.

Following Kazimir Malevich's Architecton, Valery Koshlyakov proposes the iconus as the basis for a new formological alphabet. Every letter in this alphabet is a self-sufficient plastic symbol, designating the verges of new states of space. The artist establishes his aesthetic doctrine as a synthesis of diverse, yet basic values Ц antiquity, Orthodox icons and the Russian avant-garde.

In Koshlyakov's system of values, the latter demonstrate a fundamental opposition or dissidence with respect to the symptoms, evident to the artist, of the aesthetic degeneration of reality. The quests for archetypes of the behaviour of form, incarnated in the iconus, reflect the artist's conscious need for a personal, completely closed and therefore truly pure artistic space Ц an individual realm of metaphysical tranquillity.
The iconus is postulated as symbolical form-creativity Ц the element of another world or, rather, another possibility of the world, which appears in the intuition of folk creativity, everyday social images, Russian icons, Constructivist projects and the ruins of ancient empires.

Koshlyakov's oeuvre of the last decade represents, in essence, a single project subject. Throughout its entire course, the artist has tested out the established topographies of such diverse venues as museums and galleries, old estates and active factories Ц symbols of once mighty Soviet industries. In his quests for conceptual correspondences, he dismembers and reshapes project sites with his objects, consistently expressing the idea of form as a product of creative intuition, cleansed of professional, social and cultural conventions and therefore free in the choice of language and means of expression Ц the essence of artistic will. Its production occurs outside the methodical work of the mind, as a single outburst of energy: an intuitive blow overcoming the pragmatics of such concepts as quality, utilitarianism, actuality and fashion.

In the Unreachable project, the iconus theme is interpreted in the image of towers: allegorical verticals, failed summits, at the silhouetted edge of the visible Ц or, rather, the perceptible Ц part of the world.

The intuitive engineering of Koshlyakov's objects is a paean to all great initiatives overtaken by patina at the stage of the zero cycle. The contour of the first Ц and last Ц stage of the actual implementation of the Stalinist Palace of the Soviets arises in the cultural memory: enormous farms of alloyed steel, soaring up above the foundation pit of the future swimming-pool Ц the framework of a new utopia, the unrealised dream of a Great Vertical, the central axis of a new world.

The metal constructions cleaving the space of the gallery symbolise Koshlyakov's reflections on unattainable aesthetic ideals, unrealised ideas and the unfinished projects forming the images of the world of entire generations. Liberating the vectors of the movement of forms from the significance of the spatial context, the artist turns the viewer's consciousness inwards, into the realm of pure energies and form-creative intuition, free of any social consensuses, ideological and/or stylistic connotations Ц into a zone of ideals and artistic über-tasks.

Mikhail Dmitriyev

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