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Alexander Roitburd

November 23 - December 31, 2010

Jewish Bride. 2010. Oil on canvas, 150x200 cm

Jewish Bride. 2010. Oil on canvas, 150x200 cm
Flies. 2007. Oil on canvas, 100x200 cm

Flies. 2007. Oil on canvas, 100x200 cm
V.I.P. Ц asana #2. 2009. Oil on canvas, 150x200 сm

V.I.P. Ц asana #2. 2009. Oil on canvas, 150x200 сm
The entire exposition
Roitburd's style

As we know from his own words, Alexander Roitburd as a child "was very sorry for the dead astronauts". He was so sorry that during the conscious years he has created a piece of art devoted to this topic. And he fell in love with art almost since childhood, that's why "he's always wanted to have a lot of good paintings". But, young Ivan Kromskoy, for example, had to work as a retouch artist at a photo studio before entering the Academy of Arts. And before he became famous as the chief of the 14 rebels, the Itinerants, in St. Petersburg he was already considered to be "the god of retouching". It is not a surprise, that the retouching way of simulation with a thin brush and small dashes, non-textured surface, and a brown-reddish photo coloration itself stayed with him for the rest of his life. Vasily Surikov said as he remembered him: "He wrote a portrait of me, and I'm telling him Ц there's not a single stroke. Put at least some glitter brushstroke on the forehead. And Kramskoy replies: "Where have you seen
brushstrokes on the faces?". And yet, he put one". Here it is, the brushstroke", Ц and he laughed".

It was time to ask Roitburd otherwise: "Can it be at least once without strokes, without texture?". And in response, he would say... But I do not know what he would have said, but I can vividly imagine the tonal texture of his speech that is gathering in the characteristic shapes, the relationship between which is hopelessly drowned in a dense phonetic substance. As long as I've known Shura Roitburd, he's always been on the roll. And the drive of natural energy would get ahead of any thought. With what, it seems, Roitburd has never had any problems, post factum wrapping up his artistic brainchildren into layers of text with the same stunning dexterity, which was shown with the drawn characters in a pile of brushstrokes.

As it is already clear, a brushstroke is not just physical, but is the overall metaphor for his personal manner, sign, if you'll pardon the expression, of the lifestyle. Facture for Roitburd is the same as retouching for Kramskoy. Kramskoy shawls the "truth of life" and Roitburd shawls the art, but their instinct is the same. So that the children, Lord forbid, do not die or get sick, but thanks to parental care reveal themselves to the world in all their glory.

However, let's leave Kramskoy alone, it's much more interesting what kind of offsprings passionate Roitburd has. But as soon as you start thinking about this, as with horror you realize that the children are not quite his. That they all come from the infinite brood of heroes of old classic culture and art, from antiquity to modern inclusive. And indeed there's something wrong with them. They all seem to be different, but at the same time some kind of a vegetable garden elder might be an absolute Siamese twin of its uncle in Kyiv. And, most importantly, they all have one family, classic and artistic, and red-yellow-black marking. And though the author intervenes hysterically-funny colorings to his characteristic scale from time to time, it does not change anything. Just like his Dubuffet like graffiti Ц they all glaze and retouch picture surface of the painting, not even slightly affecting its underworld. The inhabitants of which is revived meat, quite rotten zombies that animated resemble their creator with extra magnetism.

Roitburd spent most of his professional life with not just postmodern arguments about the "desacralization ofculture", "ritual gestures of desecration", "transgression as the essence of a creative act", and "the post-mortem art", but was also willing to participate in the multiplication of this conceptual garbage with all of us, who are up to their elbows in it. Both for the sake of "contextualization" of his works, and just like that, because of an excess of vitality. Today, his "apology of ugly" looks naive, but vitality still remains convincing. And besides, it became clearer what the meaning of Roitburd's sophisticated art production is. To me, it is the purest elemental formalism: a passion for producing forms, redesigned sexual instinct imitating under prevailing atmosphere of the era.

In 1995 he had "E. Troncy's Hypnotic Session" installation: plenty of kind of protoplasm was falling out of the oven. Installation was shown on the Odessa exhibition "Kandinsky Syndrome", in the text to which there was a quote of this very E. Troncy: "The art is spreading over all possible areas where it shamelessly takes bribes from reality". It seems to sound exactly like Roitburd, whose temper, art and substance constitute an absolute equality. And whatever he was engaged with besides art Ц objects, installations, and media art, organizational, curatorial or collector's activities (see the biography) Ц all of that invariably evolved into obscenely brutal collage, textured pulsating ripples.

It is simply impossible to imagine the whole heroic story of the birth and maturation of the newest Ukrainian art without Roitburd. He is the living symbol of national "postmodernism", the idol of his "meat mentality". Both in the sense of the very style of the artistic process, and in terms of his goofy, messy, and grotesque institutionalization. Odessa Ц Kyiv Ц Moscow Ц New York and back. Movements, unbearably dense communication, construction of yet other organizational structures, which fell into pieces as rapidly as they were created... All this is nothing but Roitburd's painting, the relentless real psychic protoplasm that did not remain in the frame, but erupted from the paintings into the physical, human space.

I do not know what's now going on in Kyiv. Seems like the social magma has significantly cooled down. And they call Roitburd a classic. It sounds unnatural, it is not his style at all. Though it is worthy and good for the market.

Vladimir Levashov

In collaboration with Collection Gallery, Kiev. www.collectiongallery.com.ua

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