My personal style is formally abstract, yet fundamentally nature-oriented and inspired. My interests lie in exploring the thin line between known and unknown, figurative and abstract, associative and the lack thereof. Although unintended, the motives are not instantly familiar, it is the title of the work that turns them back to the associative field of different natural structures, sometimes of botanical and animal origin. I find beauty in strangeness as well as in commonly accepted beauty ideals.
A drawing exists as a strong contour that builds and defines the structure of my pieces. It is always present, and strong and it varies from parallelism to a free, almost baroque structure of thick organic lines. I'm using repetition in order to create a vivacious linear shadow play, which adds to the overall dynamic of the works. The lines range from very long to very short almost comma-like, and I use them to edit the chaos and establish order in the composition.
The color pallet is subdued, and not primary in my work. It varies from neutrals to vividly grassy and watery green and lately, hints of cold greyish and dark blues and black. Colors are never raw, always modulated and toned down to let the form speak for itself. Using thick paste as well as liquid and see-through paint helps me define the depth of the field.
All accidental elements, such as spills and drops, are strictly controlled, and all pictorial elements are intentional. My work begins as a product of a very long contemplation and thought, while the gesture varies from long and calm to short and frantic.
AiR (artist in residence Botanical garden Kralingen)
"Art is not a mirror held up to reality but a hammer with which to shape it."
Having a very close and personal relationship with the natural world, predominantly its botanical branch, made me find the source of my inspiration somewhere between the fallen leaves on the ground, the gentle swaying branches, and the sky.
All changes in movement, hues, rhythms and light became both the fuel and the task itself. Development of every new painting took this study approach as a base around which my creative process revolved and came to be.
These gentle variations were also very suitable for my visual style: seemingly disorganized yet orderly. Line upon line pulled out of memory to mark the excitement of every new observing moment. Restlessness, one of my work's main characteristics, also became my scrutiny's main focus. The absence of symmetry, the tamed disorder and the ever-changing patterns proved hard to capture but trapping these aspects turned into the main task for over a year, which resulted in twelve paintings, each dedicated to a chosen moment out of every month of the calendar year. All the resulting artworks are paintings, but their linear character without painted surfaces qualifies them also as drawings.
My approach consisted of harvesting my personal experiences (mainly visual but also encompassing all the other senses) using natural elements and then translating them into expressive pictorial language while avoiding mimicking nature directly. The triangular bind between nature, myself and art became the very core of the residency and its meditative process helped me understand the capacity and quality of my labor. Neither abstract nor figurative, it stands in both worlds as its own entity and conveys empathy for all natural creation.
“It’s a very close and difficult thing to know why some paint comes across directly onto the nervous system
and other paint tells you the story in a long diatribe through the brain.”
(Francis Bacon, excerpt from an interview with David Sylvester for the Sunday Time Magazine, 14 July 1963)
With a soft, stuffed belly and a spine full of metal needles, pin cushions are a good example of dichotomy.
As a household item often associated with the labor of mothers and grandmothers,
its inherent deceiving tenderness is a quality hardly matched by any other object explored during childhood.
Being a child and carried off by instinct and eagerness, it is very common that when the opportunity comes to seize the pin cushion and squeeze it in with the fingers, it becomes a moment of instant regret: long-lost needles quickly emerge through the soft fabric to poke the skin with their sharp tooth. Not deep enough to cause terrible pain all at once, but surely prickly enough to associate this distressing sensation with the glory of feeling the stuffing fold under the slow pressure.
This sort of pleasurable contradiction is the distinguishing quality that makes Vladimir’s paintings so deeply interesting and alluring. The elemental shapes that are the subjects of his creations drift organically within the canvas, resembling the array that metal needles take when arranging themselves in an orderly manner along the lines of a magnetic field. They are dictated by the nature of the creator to follow a specific form and structure.
The hues of the palette that Vladimir employs and the silent charming ache that the paintings emanate, may also remind us of the specific taste of the work of Francis Bacon. The skillful ability to turn pinks, magentas, and yellows into screaming colors, going directly opposite their daily connotations, by flinging them against a dark and ominous background is something worthy of remark. So is the talent of conveying to the viewer what Bacon used to call a direct expression of the nervous system and everything that affected it, both physically and emotionally, a “deeply ordered chaos” that is crucial to every and each artwork.
In the same way, Vladimir’s figures generate a very unique microcosm around them, drawing the viewer in, right at the center of their colorful and unyielding thorny nest.
The emotional trance that the paintings evoke is to be experienced wholly and without restraint: that is their ultimate purpose, to deliver the sharpest of feelings right into the softest spot of the mind.
Marth Fon Loeben
Chrysalid gallery art director and curator