© 2020 Andrey Volkov

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Andrey Volkov

Text Alexander Borovsky

The artists Volkov are an entire cluster, like fruits on the branch of a pomegranate tree. The meaning of a family tree here loses a perhaps threadbare, but metaphorical character. It is as if it has been returned to its objective state – the tree as an actual tree. The fact is that the chain of associations – the East, pomegranate trees, fruits, colours, meditation, a dynasty of artists – in the typological cultural consciousness begins with Volkov the Elder, Alexander Nikolayevich, and his famous work Pomegranate Teahouse, and this chain will not break any time soon. Naturally, in order to bear this kind of fruit, cultivation needs to take place – the preparation of the soil, irrigation, and so on. The family’s roots in Central Asia date back almost to the time of Konstantin Kaufmann’s and Mikhail Skobelev’s expeditions. The children of conquerors and connectors, having received their educations in the capitals, returned to Turkestan as if to their homeland. In the second quarter of the 19th century, among the many Russians who lived in Central Asia, there were greedy and corrupt officials, reactionary gatekeepers, and careerists chasing happiness and ranks. Mikhail Saltykov-Shchedrin came up with a scathing definition for this community – “gentlemen of Tashkent”. But there were other Russians – competent administrators, soldiers, doctors, and engineers. They launched powerful civilizing processes, overcoming centuries of backwardness and transforming the territory. They identified themselves as Turkestanis. The Volkovs were among these Turkestanis.

 

That is the unique tree of the artists Volkov, with all of its morphology, history, and unique Moscow/Asian areal. The Volkovs value their family history, and it is clear why – there are certain common cultural parameters that are necessary to sustain, there are certain common directives for the generations, a kind of system of replenishing impressions from the outside, and even a singular form of intergenerational communication. All of this must be borne in mind when referring to the “Volkov branch”. But to me, no less important are the phenomenological tools, so to speak, that allow us to examine each artist separately, without prejudice and prior assumptions.

 

It seems to me that this is how we should treat Andrey Volkov. The grandson of the great artist behind Pomegranate Teahouse; and, by his maternal line, the great-grandson of the distinguished restorer and, as was clear after the exhibition Treasures of Nukus at the Pushkin State Museum of Fine Arts, painter Alexei Alexeyevich Rybnikov; and the son and nephew, respectively, of Alexander and Valery Volkov, commendable artists in their right, he was destined to do something with his artistic inheritance. About himself and people like him – pioneers and trailblazers – Pasternak wrote, “There is no need to start an archive/Trembling over your manuscripts.” But someone needs to tremble over the canvases of their grandfather and father. Andrey Alexandrovich Volkov has done this and continues a lot in this department. He has not, however, become a professional “keeper of the flame”.

He is an artist first and foremost. Heir and successor come after.

Andrey’s startup period was long, perhaps even prolonged. I think that he became an artist in full possession of his powers, i.e., one who has found his optics and his scope, in the early 2000s. This graduate of the State Stroganov Academy of Art and Industry has been present on the art scene, however, since the mid-1990s. He has exhibited frequently, both as the representative of an artistic dynasty and independently, and he has also participated in the very organization of artistic life, at the Union of Artists and in the gallery movement. Artistic life was bubbling back then, and Volkov cooked in this cauldron – young, advanced, and the bearer of a surname that was in and of itself a guarantee of high culture and independence from officialdom. Incidentally, it was a guarantee not only of trust, but also of responsibility. I think that he needed to tread this path in order to develop a different motivation for himself – the need for self-identification. The time came for him to take responsibility not for artistic life as a whole, but for himself. Naturally, his attempts to understand his own intentions were coloured (or, more precisely, complicated) by his place on that family tree that has already been discussed. There was no escaping it – he had to establish his relationship with the legacy of his famous grandfather and clarify both the depth of his immersion in this legacy and his distance from it. In fact, his father and uncle had been faced with this same problem.

 

Pomegranate Teahouse, Alexander Nikolayevich Volkov’s hallmark, an iconic work of the Turkestani avant-garde, is not so easy to “pin” on the map of the “great experiment” (I will use the title of Camilla Gray’s old, half-forgotten book on the Russian avant-garde). Not for nothing has no one who has written about him used the names of concrete avant-garde movements: Futurism, Suprematism, etc.

 

Rather, they recall the symbolism of Mikhail Vrubel, whose influence is obvious, both in terms of the facets of the shapes and in relation to the transparent, stained-glass glow of the colour. It is not without reason that cubism is cited. I would also add that consummate icon of Modernism, Henri Matisse, his Moroccan works, to be exact. And not only for their geographical and behavioural analogies, the luxurious, specially slowed down sense of time, but primarily for the double, transparently colorized lens, colour that has passed through the glass of an atmospheric haze and thus takes on a special non-materiality and purity.

 

In this way, Volkov’s avant-garde quality is situational. It exists in connection with the situation at the time in art in Soviet Central Asia. The energy itself of the deep separation from the existing state of affairs and toward a new understanding of art as such was avant-garde. The reference to the archaic in order to create contemporary art also was avant-garde. Finally, in the 1960s, during the period of the first attempts to restore justice to leftist artists who had suffered persecution during the Stalinist era, the term “avant-garde” took on heroic connotations. This was also true of Volkov – he had swallowed oppression and injustice plenty of times. In this context of the Thaw, the term “avant-garde” applied to Volkov sounded like a synonym of well-deserved recognition. That is the history of the use of the term. Such a triple effect affixed Volkov’s membership in the avant-garde in the public consciousness. This is historically fair, and in part, it removes the necessity of understanding this issue on its merits. But it seems like we need to, at least in the interests of the “Volkov bunch”. I will say it again – I am not at all opposing Volkov’s title of leader of the Turkestani avant-garde (and this scene’s membership in the avant-garde as a whole). I am simply emphasizing the situational and metaphorical factors regarding the use of the term. I am certain that this perspective will contribute to the emergence of new meanings in “Volkovian topics”.

 

The art of Volkov the Elder in his great, mature period I would define as mytho-poetic. This definition would have a far too generalized character if it were not reliant on specific factors of how the world is perceived and how shapes are formed in his art. They are interdependent to the point of the sense of a kind of synthesis: by pulling at the thread of one factor, more often than not, you will unravel the whole. Thus, the mytho-poetic perspective revealed itself at various stages of Volkov’s art practice in different guises, from archaization to the poetization of the current and topical (in his later works, beginning in the mid-1930s). He never abused the mimetic (again, in his great period). Volkov also almost never crossed the border of the non-objective. In his painted representation, the natural impulse sometimes completely dissolved; however, it always returned in some new capacity. Thus, at the core of Volkov’s painting (of course, developing, always in the process of formation) lay transformed observation, the “capturing” of the nature motif. How did the forms take shape? Writers who write about Volkov the Elder always, in different languages, talk about the “facets” of the shapes of his objects, which stem from Vrubel, and of the extreme generalization, which speaks to the influence of analytical cubism, and about stained glass and so on, summarising, I would like to emphasize, the optic quality of shape formation in Volkov.

 

That is, the importance for him of refractions and reflections of colour, the changes in its aperture depending on viewing angles and perspectives. The form is built upon these changes. Alexander Nikolayevich Volkov, along with everything else, was a wonderful poet, and he himself found a succinct image for this configuration – “beam receiver”. There was also another pitchfork for the tuning of shapes – rhythmic. Volkov avoided common, “accidental” rhythms. He was also far from the artificial rhythms of images that came from synthetic cubism and that had been picked up by the majority of non-objective artistic. Volkov was close to the archaic understanding of rhythm based on observations from life and sacralized as a kind of dynamic, kinetic way of life. Volkov, again in his poetry, gave a description of this archetypicalized movement: “The caravan has taken off early/And is rocking the row of the mountain’s humps.” The incremental movement of the camels and the caravan, generalized to geometrization, imparts the archetypal quality of representation in painting. There are compositional/spatial archetypes – sacre conversazione, arches with keystones, etc. The general principle remains the germination of the archetype from what has been observed, and not the subordination of the captured motif to an archetypal matrix.

Naturally, in their self-identification, the brothers Alexander and Valery Volkov could not bypass the poetics of their father, the leader of the Turkestani avantgarde. Alexander “went through” a period of “facets” in his shapes and the optics of his colours; in general, the passing of light “through” a colour mass remains his constant research subject. It is curious that, drawing upon the experience of his famous father, he also felt the need to overcome the very structural nature of Volkov the Elder’s poetics, the matrix itself of their relationship to space, dynamics, and time. No dimensionality – the younger artist placed his bets on impulsiveness. At first, he reproduced Pollock’s drip paintings, and then arrived at automatism of the surrealist doctrine. Later, he discovered CoBrA and their direct physiologically expressive gesture. Then he encountered French abstraction, which is more forgiving in terms of radicalism, but in its intimacy is more agile and sensitive in the psychoemotional key. All the while, he has maintained his “family” interest in archetypes and genre sources, in everyday life. And over the years, this interest has got stronger and greedier; the artist does not fear being with natural material one-on-one. And like a sculptor, he is interested in the acuity of the translations from the mimetic to the plastic. In his paintings and pastels in recent decades, Alexander Volkov has arrived at works distinguished purely by his own personal cosmism. Series begin with real situations, and then they acquire a universality and a certain symbolic character. They are not fragments of nature, but complete ecosystems of sorts. The path of the universe brings situations into a different dimension. Objectivity disappears and the form acquires abstraction. And the movements of the artist’s hand put together things of different scales – some lines or routes may be the path of raindrops, and they may, now in the situation of the cosmos, serve as the trails of stars.

 

Valery Volkov was an artist of the 1960s, with all that entailed: he fell in love with modernist shifts and twists of form, a succulent colour palette reminiscent of Chaim Soutine, and freedom from thematic dictates, expressed in the very possibility to paint not just anything, but the fate of the actors of Traveling circus. It was not just about the rich textures of these lives. It was nothing less than an elegant response to the zealots of the Soviet narrative painting. It was so evident that it could have been used in the “arguments about the new art”. Mimes remain silent, as they are supposed to do, but the narrative is still obvious. Mimes provide their own ways of supporting it, and painting has its own. Your job as a viewer is to learn the language. Soon, however, the brothers would become acquainted with French abstraction, a number of whom were of Russian extraction – Nicolas de Staël, Serge Poliakoff, André Lanskoy. Some of them they were able to meet in real life, seeing that they were somehow allowed to travel abroad. I think that the closest of all to Valery was de Staël – his colour squares that glowed from the inside were abstractions, and were not subject to a related cause-and-effect interpretation. Of course, it was possible to improvise – the roofs of Paris, a hymn to tin patches, etc. And yet, even if one does not go along the path of explication, there was a kind of emotional connection in these works – up and down the steps of existence, an abstraction of a mood. The artist, of course, was tempted by narrative, but not for long. Soon he found his opportunity to stretch some threads from his abstractions – through de Staël – to structure. There are analogues along the metaphysical and plastic lines: in their dimensionality and the succession of their interchanges, Valery’s squares are associated with the movement of caravans in the work of Volkov the Elder. As a whole, the influence of European abstraction has illuminated the palette of Valery Volkov: the thick viscous painting has begun to combine with glimpses and streams of light. His “family” interest in Eastern motifs and reality is evolving, but his “new Volkov Orientalism” has its own unique qualities – he has appropriate late European abstraction, and the resulting mood swings are especially artistic and high-strung.

 

What did young Andrey Volkov “inherit”? The easiest to say would be painting culture. This is very general, however. By this we could mean the traditional culture of understanding colour and space with their relationships of line and colour, figure and background, the internal structure and the extroverted gesture. We could also mean the contemporary situation within non-objective art (after all, two generations of Volkovs have had a relationship with it) – the culture of the interaction of the two main paradigms of abstraction at the limit of its possibilities, the grid and monochrome. You can go further to objectivity and concept. I still think that painting culture in the understanding of Andrey Volkov in his formative period (and this was formed by his “family” and study at the Stroganov Academy as much as by his independent contemplation and navigation of the space of contemporary art) is a culture of abstract painting with the articulation of the second word: the resource of the expressive possibilities of the medium. That is, abstraction to the point of reduction. Over the course of a century, there have been several instances where non-figurative art has refused painting as a spiritual, autobiographical, etc. resource. (Alexander Rodchenko in his monochromes, Kazimir Malevich in his “Zero Painting”, Vladimir Tatlin refusing representation in favour of fidelity to the material and the object, Marcel Duchamp in his transition to indexicality. In the 1950s, this process was continued on new ground by the efforts of other participants.) The postulate of “the logical conclusion of painting (Rodchenko) led to a refresh of the medium each time, but the very idea of exhaustion itself lent dynamism and drama to the artistic process.

 

As it has already been mentioned above, the patriarch of the Volkov artistic family line, Alexander Nikolayevich, did not actually cross the boundary of representation in painting, getting to the edge, but stepping back, unable to part with his sources, his impressions from life, no matter how indirect. His sons, who came up during a period of renewed interest in the avant-garde, who were moreover very familiar with European abstraction, crossed that boundary. It seems to me, however, that a radical refusal from all references did not manifest itself. Andrey Volkov began his path with figurative works (Portrait of a Girl, 1994). The capturing of a character and the materialization of an image generally run in parallel with the process of derealization, the beginning stage of the dissolving of form. This creates a certain tension. In the way they are painted, several of his relatively early works have things in common with the Turkestani works of his grandfather. There are compositions with arches: Coliseum (1994), Ruins (1995). Under the influence of his travels in Italy, a pure “Oriental” colour palette appears. In his 1994 work San Pietro, generalization achieves a high level, but nevertheless the image of Venice is “readable” – the mirage city with white buildings against a turquoise-blue background and the vertical architectural form of the Campanile. Volkov has gradually broken away from mimetics. Here his familial attachment to French abstraction plays a large role. French abstraction was not as radical as the American abstraction of the 1950s and 1960s, but it retained a kind of emotional openness and it was not afraid of being artistic.

 

In his abstract works, Volkov begins with setting fully concrete tasks on the entirety of the painting surface – developing connections, a kind of dimensionality of planes and rhythms. Gradually, its colour palette with the unexpected resonance of yellow and the bleached surface reveals itself. The viscosity and chaos of the painting are overcome, and the lightness and flatness of pure colour appear. At the same time, he completes tasks related to the concentration of energy and dynamics – his compositions feature a central shape formed from materialized colours that unfolds in the space. The referentiality is not lost; the viewer is right to see analogues of sport scuffles or plasma cells in these dynamic forms, these coils of colour and energy.

Andrey Volkov’s next step was decisive. To a certain extent, he broke with his family tradition, with the accumulated experience of the balance between non-objectivity and representation of sensory experience. Of course, it was a shame in terms of the Oriental vector, and thousands of subtleties in terms of seeing the world, from mytho-poeticism to ironic tones.

This step, however, determined Volkov’s current position in Russian art. He is perhaps Russia’s most serious artist of the new abstraction. Why new? Russian artists stand at the sources of abstraction and along the whole journey of its evolution, they have represented its interests, even in times of severe pressure from an authoritarian state. I think that the presence of a certain conceptual framework is new for the Russian environment. In Russia, in Volkov’s generation, there are numerous accidental or naively exalted (inclined toward, to use the language of the Dictionary of Moscow Conceptualism, dukhovka [an ironic term used when discussing spiritual bonds with the intent to reduce modernism’s inherent pathos]) or the just as naïve and pragmatic (on the off chance it will work out!) fellow travellers of abstraction, its users, as it were. The ability to frame and reflect upon one’s alignment in abstraction is something few possess. This alignment is connected with radical self-limitation. The contemporary abstract artist is a hidden figure that does not count on special interest from either the world of glamour or social institutions. In his time, Yves Klein’s public abstract-exhibitionism was, to use Igor Severyanin’s words, “screened everywhere”. Nikita Khrushchev’s dangerous struggles with the “abstractionists” of the Thaw were at the top of the world news. These times have long since passed.

Thus, Andrey Volkov had to give up a lot, and not only attention from the mass media. I think that it was more difficult to reject his family’s signature interest in French abstraction. It was a kind of “trademark”, a rare, promising original bend in their development. But as his background, Volkov took on a completely different experience: the American lineage of abstraction of Barnett Newman, Ad Reinhardt, and Ellsworth Kelly. For all of the clarity of this material, its terminological definitions are unstable, drifting between Colour Field painting, post-painterly abstraction, and hard-edge painting. The key words are colour, plane, corner, and geometry. No narratives, allusions, spiritual insights, or any kind of story. The sign is extremely close to the signified. First and foremost, the work expresses its empirical materiality. It is not just self-limitation. It is a kind of asceticism…

 

Volkov did not immediately arrive at this radical rejection. On the contrary, in several works, he thematicized his own departure from imagery and from painting in general as such. Back in his time, Kazimir Malevich derived the “zero” state of the painting of the day from the flatness of its medium and the limits of geometric frame. He revered the square as the most natural form of limitation (quadrum means both “square” and frame”). The concept of the mirror or the window, which had historically been associated with painting, was discarded.

Starting with Josef Albers, all modernist art pedagogy has set forth the task of searching in the painting’s plane for a coordinate grid, a rectangle that replaces and includes a human figure that was the centre in academic art. I think that Andrey Volkov is very familiar with these issues. In the central work of the series Magic Garden (1999), a “thematicized” farewell to painting, the frame is represented by geometrically regular monochromatic indentations from the edge of the canvas. Inside is the actual image, the sky surrounded by greenery (a frame within a frame). In the second, the frame is already depicted, and the green background remains from the painting itself; the colour field above is punctuated by an uneven strip of black. In the third, half is given to the image itself – blooming greenery, and a sky that has been halved by uneven black shading. Next, in Red Mirror (1999), the remains of the wiped out image of the frame and picture are on the painted flatness of the background, a kind of unity of the erased. Next are scraps presumed to be of the picture and frame scattered across the surfaces of the painted pieces. Well, it is a long farewell to the traditional painting that represents reality within a frame.

 

The series’ meaning is that of a phenomenology of being present. The painting is a reality, the artist depicts and “erases”, and the viewer is an “agent of seeing” (Rudolf Arnheim). Ideally, the viewer experiences not what has been indicated (mimetics, narrative, stylistics, a “school”, etc.), but instead their reaction to simple manipulations of form and time – erasure and renewal.

 

Barnett Newman, an artist that I believe means a lot to Andrey Volkov, paid a lot of attention to the phenomenon of the viewer’s perception – how they experience scale, symmetry, the physical sensation of time, the departure beyond the physical possibilities of their field of vision. In the work Double Reflection (2005), Volkov does not address symmetry, but rather similarity. The body of the work is split into two parts. Covering the entire vertical canvas (the “residual” blue bar on the left suggests a possible background) are image of rectangles with rounded upper sections. The lower canvas is a mirror image of the one above. The colour is material, deep, a dense brick-red orange, and to the lower right, it is pinkish, with a violet Rothkoesque tint, a stain. The silhouette is unclear and the geometry is approximate; these two colour masses are similar in colour, weight, and the character of the application of the paint.

 

The artist has found an effective way to solidify this similarity in the viewer’s mind. It is as follows. Introductory words are given. There is a very small, shallow, rectangular notch in the upper half of the surface of the canvas almost unnoticeable against the background of the colour mass. And in the lower half, there is a rod, the size of the notch, but glued by its rib to the surface, casting a shadow. Thanks to this simple technique, the work acquires objectivity, three-dimensionality. But most importantly, the viewer cannot resist the optical temptation to measure the notch/lock and the rod/key, visually closing the image into a single whole. In Composition in Red (2005), the empirical materiality of colour takes on a kind of corporeality. This does not enter into the artist’s intentions; he specifically accompanies the brick tone mentioned above with the now-trademark Rothkoesque pinkish-violet tint, without hiding the flow of the paint across the canvas, against a blue background. There is no stylization, no allegory, it seems. Nevertheless, the colour has volume (perhaps due to underpainting); tangible, it causes a tactile reaction in the viewer. The materialization of colour is a constant challenge for the artist. But, so to speak, the achievement of equality between the sign and signified is not his ultimate interest. This state indicates the elimination of authorship. Volkov is giving more and more attention to the signified, in the Saussurean sense – as a mental imprint. According to Saussure, it is acoustic, the trace of a sound, but this image can also be visual.

 

Volkov acts almost literally, placing a certain imprint on the colour surface. It is similar to a motif on fabric, and it is its application that is important, that is, a certain action from the outside. Does this signify the return of authorship? Only in part, because we are dealing with a matrix, a prepared, impersonal form. The imprint motif is consciously given to us in a faceless manner. The plan of expression and emotion is only outlined. It is present, but as the possibility of being realize. In the work Untitled (2015), this possibility is used. But only partly. Against a green background there is a kind of dynamic form that is reminiscent of the traces of a human form. This is important. It is not a mechanical imprint, but the real-life trace of bodily contact. And although this trace has escaped (literally – it is elusive; it is disappearing), it has left hope for contact. It appears that Volkov is concerned with problems of possibility and implementation generally. He consciously photographs his almost monochromatic works in such a light that (due to glazing and underpainting, by the looks of it) the colour takes on a special depth. Photography in this case is less like reproduction and more like a sign of how to navigate. Under these defined conditions for seeing, the impression is created that the colour is literally standing, not draining like a waterhole. It is not just the duplication of the superimposition of the material and it is not an illusory effect. It is a metaphor that can be perceived by the senses, very simple, but effective.

 

Barnett Newman warned against any and all tropes or narratives – legends, myths, stories, allegories, and associations. But he did allow himself something – to inspire a sense of scale, presence, rejection, cold, heat. These are also metaphors of the simple and basic sort. I think that Volkov prefers his metaphors to be physical – an abstract painting goes for contact and avoids it, allows you to become immersed and pulls you up to the surface, hurts you with its indifference and pulls into itself. Sometimes these forms of contact are more complex. The artist frequently uses the same methods that Newman introduced into abstraction. These include vertical separation and a colour bar that pierces the main array of colour. Newman called it a “zip”; the dynamic moment was important to him. The painting would “zip” and “unzip”. Volkov also uses this approach, frequently moving the “zipper” to right or the left side of the canvas. I think that he has his motifs. It seems that the artist uses this method as an indexing factor – he seems to look at the possible colours, “turning over” the previous one. It is possible that this is a topological moment where the external and the internal are rejected: a look inside the work. And perhaps it is a more theatrical gesture, a painted departure into another world, perhaps one that is once again substantive, real.

 

Andrey Volkov today remains one of the most consistent representatives of radical abstraction. He has done a lot on this path. Radical abstraction is framed by the concept of self-determination, alienation from all forms of narrative and spirituality. That is why he is interesting. In addition, he is of interest due to the completely predictable turns of his artistic destiny. They are not beyond the mountains.

Like his grandfather wrote: “The caravan has taken off early / And is rocking the row of the mountain’s humps.”

 
 

The Preservation of Time

Text Anastasiya Martynova

 

 

The language of Andrey Volkov’s painting is one of the intersection of expression and austerity, of spontaneity and mathematical calculation, of the freedom of self-expression and the study of nature and matter. His works, which are capable of containing an infinite number of interpretations, reveal the surprising depth and strength of the cultural sources available to the artist.

 

Andrey Volkov grew up in a family where art was not just a profession, but also a way of life. The originator of the Volkov dynasty, Alexander Nikolayevich Volkov (1886–1957), was a leading Russian artist of the first half of the 20th century, best known to viewers for his painting Pomegranate Teahouse, which is in the Tretyakov Gallery’s collection.

 

For Andrey Volkov, the colour red, blazing and glowing and symbolizing intuitive knowledge and an ecstatic connection with God, reveals a space liberated from referentiality. ‘Red is intriguing primarily because it allows us to break away from signification,’ the artist says. “There is a reason it is used in icons. For me, red is a special state outside of lexical meaning.”

 

The compositional complexity of Volkov’s work is built upon the interaction of colour masses, arrays with small details and lines, their reflection, transitions, influence on one another, their translucency and interlacing. The artist is interested in something that eludes an understandable structure – the relationship between the layers of paint and the surface do not provide an unambiguous interpretation. We get the feeling that tectonic masses are going through the fusing process right in front of us, masses that have different temperatures and freeze into bizarre forms. The material begins to live its own complex life; colour ceases to be a characteristic of something and becomes something in and of itself, affirming its independent existence and ability to interact with matter in a separate, permanent world that it has created.

 

“I am inspired by paint itself,” Andrey says. “My love for the material is ever increasing. I become interested when painting has already lost touch with social and political connotations. It is important for me to understand paint as a special medium that is both the content and the message – not only do you affect it, but it affects you. I want to tear myself away from the top and the bottom, from all dimensions, from those things that maintain a stronghold in reality, in order to understand that shortest moment of freedom that is creativity. Because I have no other justification for this activity except for that moment of freedom.”

 

This state of liberation from the reality of the surrounding world is also obtained by the viewer while studying the levels of the painting’s space and mentally putting themselves, “putting their body” into it, in the words of Maurice Merleau-Ponty. The reflective surface that appears in many of Volkov’s paintings makes our immersion into the picture visible, creating a constant change in the life of the material, which gets filled with information about the sequences of views of visions and projections, absorbing all possible reflections, becoming more complex and infinitely alive in the new interaction.

 

The visual indistinguishability of depth and plane, colour and translucent flickers of light, and the painting and our reflection in it is a metaphor for the meeting of the “sensed and sensing”. You appear in this world and then you disappear, and it is as if this moment will remain in the painting forever, filling it with another meaning, a physical presence. Andrey Volkov’s interaction with painting is a solution for some of the limitations of our experience, outside, outward, to where space is limitless, undefined, but obviously spiritually charged. And when we merge with it for a moment, we become aware of this singular complexity and depth, and the endless freedom – within ourselves.