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Verticals


Vladimir Logutov

February 4-22, 2009
Malaya Polyanka 7/7-5




Open: Wed-Sun, 2 pm Ц 8 pm
Exept Monday, Tuesday

***

Vladimir Logutov is a well-known name in Moscow art life. In less than three years, this young master from Samara has become a symbol of the "new wave" and one of Russia's most famous video artists. Since January 2009 he is represented by Regina Gallery, Moscow. Logutov's works combine nature footage with computer montage, creating an exciting fusion of the accidental and the intentional. Meditative narrative is accompanied by his own personal reflexion. Logutov's videos are often called painterly, because they seem to revive the hallowed traditions of the old Russian school of landscape painting.

Few, however, know of Vladimir Logutov's own works of painting, which he considers his favourite form of art. The artist once observed that he had drawn for as long as he could remember Ц in childhood, in art school, at college and after his graduation. While Logutov's interest in video did not lead him to abandon painting, he has not been in any rush to exhibit his canvases. Today, the only known examples of his early works are the Sale graphic series (2005) and his painterly geometry based on a map of the world Ц Untitled (2006).

A few years ago, at one of his one-man shows,1 Vladimir Logutov exhibited completely new works, reflecting a desire to endow painting with the categories of chance and natural element that have distinguished his video art. The Negative Drawing graphic series was created with the stub of the pencil, accompanied by conventional studies using the "correct" end. There were also large untitled canvases with specially peeled paint, as if the pictures had been kept in an aggressive environment or exhibited in the frost, before they had the chance to dry.

The manner in which these works were made incorporates elements of a performance or a happening, when a picture is merely the link in a chain of other creative actions by the artist. This concept of the creative process, however, differs greatly from the striking gestures of the age of Action Painting or the anthropometries of Yves Klein. Logutov presents not the showy side, but the sloppy and slovenly aspects of the creative process, which often end in failure, mistakes or even "spoilage."2

It would be incorrect to seek here parallels in the art of the past, such as the concept of the unlucky artist or the unhappy clown, so popular at the turn of the century. Logutov's painting is laid bare and there is neither failure nor drama about this. It is pure experimentation, providing the artist with an unexpected and interesting result, which he does not intend to reject.

The most remarkable and pleasing aspect of Vladimir Logutov's oeuvre is the sensation of the "still open doors" of art. One feels that he has not experienced the bitter loss of artistic ideals, humiliation at the defeat of the left-wing movement or the fear of globalisation, which poisoned the generation of the 1990s. Nor does he seem aware of another failure Ц the educational role of contemporary art. Logutov is elsewhere engaged: in a quest for new expressiveness and the possibility of influencing the image by surmising and modifying the formal devices of its creation.

Digital technologies have provided new and euphoric ways of influencing the image. But the joy of everyday users of computer programmes has quickly evaporated, owing to the evident limitations of the majority of experiments with images on the screen Ц the main example of which remains retouching. Logutov, however, discovers new possibilities by repudiating the discontinuity of the image, which makes an ideal glossy image impossible. This does not interest Logutov, who prefers the phenomenon of the stream, whether it is pure time, movement or some other process. This is clearly demonstrated by the Expectation video installation (2006), in which the montage occurs inside the moving frame, offering unlimited possibilities for variations and giving the work "added time."

Similarly, the paintings from the Verticals series are also pure variance or even, drawing a parallel between colour and sound, a form of modulation as such. Logutov visualises the very phenomenon of the natural element Ц a creative act or stream of consciousness Ц and the runs of paint are its unwitting illustration.

Trusting in the elemental manifestation of the painterly matter, Logutov rejects complete control of the image Ц a temptation offered by digital technologies. The principle of "chance," which he has consciously adhered to throughout his oeuvre, actively opposes his own will, which is also strongly manifested in this particular project. The artist himself establishes the border Ц the horizontal line from which all runs of paint begin. Sometimes, this line is whimsical and graduated; at other times, it is duplicated by an equal stripe of another colour.

Revolving the canvas while the paint is still wet, Logutov influences the trajectory of the drops. The lines running downwards, sideways and upwards are called "verticals," hinting at their dependence on the power of gravity in each concrete turn of the canvas. The diversity of these "verticals" Ц their curvature, non-parallelism, lop-sidedness or even horizontalness Ц is an elegant nod in the direction of the relativity of any system of measurement.

____
1 Complementary element, Stella Art Foundation, Moscow, September 2007.
2 The title of an exhibition curated by Vladimir Logutov at the M'ARS Centre for Contemporary Arts in Moscow in 2007.



25.01.2009
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