18.02.2014 – 02.03.2014
Triumph Gallery, Moscow
The artist Alexander Velichko and his detailed, realistic, painted canvases, with their stressed brushstrokes, classical framing and lighting that echoes Caravaggio’s style, all spiced with a humanist conception, entirely matches the goal that has been set — to provide an academic resonance to modern art. His pictures, on the one hand, are within the tradition of the most striking representative of the severe style of Geliy Korzhev, with close-ups, restrained coloration and painstaking modeling of the figures. On the other, on a sensual level, they share something with the highly significant German painter Anselm Kiefer, with his deserted, restrained spaces and sense of catastrophe.
Velichko’s new series, Premonition, is a collection of canvases with soldiers and interiors, empty landscapes and laid tables where real, well detailed characters are in an alarmed, irrational condition that is not subject to logic — the "premonition" itself. A premonition of danger, love, or death. Velichko’s role here is not only aesthetic, it is also ethical — he is here to observe. The doomed concentration in the gaze of the blue-eyed soldier, the pensive sorrow in the face of the girl on the stairway landing, the disturbing emptiness of the streets drenched in rain — Velichko has seen all this in real life. It is his artistic ability that allows him to convey all these shadings of life’s frames of mind in a handmade picture.
Apart from the moment of the here and now, in these works there is another layer of time. Premonition is a condition relating to the future. The future is reflected, however, in Velichko’s works, in the images of war and conflict, as well as in a rejection of the "everyday" and the "commonplace". Everything that is "everyday" in his pictures is deserted, abandoned, and outcast. There are many different conceptions of time, one of which assumes that the future is not predetermined, instead constructing itself along the way. For this reason, Velichko’s "premonitions" are gloomy fantasies on this theme. The artist says that "we do not choose premonitions, they choose us". It is this key mystical moment that is definitive in the series. Using the genre of the anti-utopia and images of the First World War, Velichko conveys the transience of time and the anxiety of this condition. The series of works poses many questions, the answers to which are mere guesses. Do the characters in the canvases know that they will be killed? Do they think about this? What if this doesn’t happen? The story that we are talking of here is apolitical, free of lecturing on morals and cautions. Despite the fact that the author himself describes his series as “a very personal story of a person trying to survive on this earth yesterday, today, and tomorrow,” are these fears and goals not a painful wound shared by us all?