Ornis A. Gallery is proud to present ‘Les rendez-vous extraordinaires avec les ombres’, a new series of figurative paintings by the Russian artist Yuri Rodekin (1960). Rodekin’s paintings, that reveal the artist’s broad knowledge of art history, literature and philosophy, balance on the thin line between realism and expressionism.
The exhibition title ‘Les rendez-vous extraordinaires avec les ombres’ (‘the extraordinary meetings with the shadows’) refers to Rodekin’s work method. Every painting is the result of an encounter with something remarkable, either an actual meeting or an experienced sensation or a memory. In the words of Rodekin: “the shadow, as antonym of the light, is the beginning of everything you see”. This dark side is deeply expressed in his paintings. In Rodekin’s settings it always seems to be night. The sky is coloured in a dark blue shade and expressive purple clouds mysteriously float above the portrayed characters. The moon colours their faces green. We are invited into a gloomy and mysterious world.
Many of the painted characters are situated classically in front of a window or in a mountain landscape. While there is a lack of human interaction, Rodekin’s solitary characters are accompanied by snakes, birds or butterflies, as an elegant and light counterbalance to the sinister setting. With this combination of realism and melancholia, his paintings strikingly resemble the aesthetic of the mid-twentieth century, found in the works of Giorgio DeChirico, the artists of the Neue Sachlichkeit in Germany (Otto Dix and George Grosz) or the Dutch Magisch Realisten (Carel Willink). However, contemporaneity is never too far away. Like an inventor in a science-fiction movie, Rodekin builds his characters out of several elements. For instance the young man in ‘Young Entomologists Society’ (2012) who wears a colourful Mohawk hairstyle. The hands of the female character of ‘Playing Lucretzia’ (2012), a reference to the art historical visual tradition of Roman martyr Lucretia, are covered by plastic gloves. Rodekin paints characters that stand with one foot in the early twentieth century while their other foot stands firmly in the twenty-first.