Check out DIMITRI KOZYREV‘s first solo show in Houston this weekend at a gSpot project space. The Director of the Blaffer Gallery, Toby Kamps, both curated the show and wrote a wonderful essay on the work (below).
Dimitri Kozyrev’s Lost Edge series surveys vast territories of history and modern art. Trained in USSR as a meteorologist by the Soviet air force and in the United States as a painter by the University of California, Santa Barbara, he applies a cartographer’s precision and an artist’s synthesizing imagination to military and aesthetic conquests and their aftermaths. The ostensible subject of these large images, which are comprised of intersecting vector lines and angular planes of subtly modulated color, is the Winter War, a little-known invasion of Finland by the Soviet Union in 1939. But these complex, semi-abstract images derived from landscapes and fortresses are as much about fields of art as fields of battle.
As a child growing up in Leningrad, Kozyrev explored the ruins of the Mannerheim Line, a vast fortified border constructed by the Finns to protect their territory. Soviet troops overran this fortification with the same ease the Germans, their then-allies, knocked out the even bigger Maginot Line in France a year later. Today, this complex of pillboxes and tunnels is overgrown by birch and pine forests. In Kozyrev’s hands, this vanishing landscape becomes an emblem for the history of modern art. In the first half of the 20th century, he notes, a few advance-guard troops crashed through a defense believed to be impenetrable, and a small cadre of avant-garde artists broke through all manner of established boundaries to establish radically new visions. Such decisive breakthroughs, he believes, are difficult to imagine in our current age.
Today, it seems, warfare consists more of running skirmishes between mismatched forces than set-piece battles, and advanced art is a crowded field marked more by incremental, interstitial advances than by revolutionary breakthroughs. The possibility that the supply of new ideas and approaches may be exhausted haunts our time. Kozyrev, however, looks to the past in order to move forward. He picks up the standard of Modernism—a glorious, tantalizingly just-out-of-reach time of unlimited potential—and rushes into the skirmish.
Kozyrev’s vision of the Mannerheim Line is an intoxicating mixture of the dynamic and the hallucinatory. He draws on the pictorial innovations of the French Cubists, the Russian Constructivists, and the Italian Futurists to create an immersive experience. Like his forebears, Kozyrev revels in the promises of expanded perception, new technology, and the catharsis of violence—pictorial and martial. Yet his are willfully precarious and brittle scenes, epic in scope but fragile in structure. They are rendered as if in sheets of glass and in apocalyptic hazes of smoky blues, greens, grays, and yellows. All human endeavors—political and aesthetic—are fragile, these paintings remind us. And our moment is particularly precarious, as the threat of nuclear annihilation once again hangs in the air, despite all the connectivity of the post-internet age. In the end, the thrill and the chill in Kozyrev’s work stems from its unsettling combination of original beauty and bunker archaeology. The cutting, avant-garde edge—possibility of something entirely new—may indeed be lost to contemporary painters, but Kozyrev shows us that, in the right hands, the tools and treasures left to us by the Modernists are still capable of extraordinary revelations.
-Toby Kamps (Dir. of Blaffer Gallery, Curator of Dimitri Kozyrev, ‘Lost Edge’ at G Spot Gallery through January 2018)
Concurrently, Mark Moore Fine Art is pleased to present a series of nine new works on canvas from the ongoing Lost Landscapes Series by artist Dimitri Kozyrev.
This exclusive ARTSY online exhibition is on view now and is visible at the following link:
For more information on the Houston exhibition, go to: