|“Still Life. Yellow & Pink” (2014)
Acrylic, canvas, pastel
|“Still Life. Yellow, Red & Pink on Grey” (2014)
Acrylic, canvas, pastel
|“Still Life. Blue & Pink” (2014)
Acrylic, canvas (90×100 cm)
|“Still Life. Yellow on Yellow” (2014)
Acrylic, canvas (140×70 cm)
|“Still Life. Grey & Purple” (2013)
Acrylic, canvas, graphite
|“Still Life. Yellow & Grey” (2014)
Acrylic, canvas, pencils
Still life. In search of invisible.
The world created by Sergey Sangalov attracts by its mystery. The unique color language invented by the artist makes each of his paintings a little riddle to solve and at the same time a key to unlock door to the universe. Ambivalent shapes, illogical proportions and ambiguous sizes, the suggestion of a space conceived without any reference and often enclosed in a laconic square format, disturb and evoke these strange memories and psychic sensations, distracting and bewitching us.
The Russian artist Sergey Sangalov was born in 1959 near the Black Sea in Abkhazia, the country that disappeared from the world political map. From an early age, his life is filled with an inexplicable passion for the image, undoubtedly inspired by the amazing nature of the area that captures the imagination by its colors and sunlight. The young boy was living in close contact with the surrounding world: he liked going alone in the mountains, exploring the subterranean passages of his hometown Sukhum, diving into the sea. It seems that throughout his work Sangalov attempts to recreate the harmony of colors and shades that left a deep mark back in his childhood.
Then, troubled times came up, and the paradise turned into a battlefield. The armed conflicts and the war that the artist witnessed in the late 80s and early 90s, entered into the symphony of his work, and echoed by minor notes of despare and tragedy of modern man.
Sangalov’s works of that period lead us with their figurative allusions into a poetry world inhabited by mysterious archaic creatures whose origins are lost somewhere in the children’s fears and stories. These are “Little Monsters”, relatives of mythical characters of the primitive art. Like all mythical beings, they evoke in our primal awareness an immediate presence of powerful forces, terror and fear. The myth is even more interesting as it is able to express something that really exists in us. In these works, the artist already blurs the line between drawing and painting, mostly by a daring mix of graphic and color techniques.
Above all, Sergey Sangalov is an artist who surprises with his mastery. Graduated from the Faculty of Fine Arts in Rostov-on-Don after five years of studies, he possesses an impeccable technique of painting and graphics. He is an artist who attaches great importance to the material: he carefully selects the canvas, the frame, prepares himself the primer, and know everything about the technology of paint manufacturing. “I’m interested in the process itself, I never khow what the outcome of the work will be. I’m interested in my state in the process. I only know the direction, the vector.” Painting is his condition of being. Sangalov never makes sketches. His works are born spontaneously arising under his talented brush on the surface of being. At the same time, he is working long and laboriousely by superimposing multilayred glazes, and revealing chromatic nuances so that the body of the picture becomes alive, deep and radiate an especial light. Despite his perfectly contemporary and singular style, the work of Sergey Sangalov paradoxically evokes an echo of different ages and traditions: American Lyrical Abstraction of the 50s and the Abstract Minimalism are nodding to Renaissance. His devotion for technology and material, as well as his spiritual approach to the painting of artist-medium, betray his loyalty to old masters. This impossible synthesis of novelty and tradition is recognized and appreciated immediately by the collectors.
Several works of Sergei Sanagalov are part of museum collections in Russia, Georgia and the United States. In 1988, he moved to Moscow, where he quickly attracted the attention of first contemporary art galleries opened in the capital after the perestroika. His paintings were acquired by MARS – the first Museum of Contemporary Art in the capital. Early works of the artist belonging to the collections of the Tbilisi Art Gallery and the Museum of Modern Art in Tbilissi were burned along with the museum buildings during the assault of the president palace in 1992. Then there were personal exhibitions in Moscow, Munich, Montreal.
In 1993, Sergey Sangalov comes to New York, walking around the city, visiting museums and galleries. In one gallery, he shows his works to the director. Three weeks later, the New York’s « 13 » Gallery opens an exibition with participation of Sangalov. This was followed by several joint exhibitions with Oscar Rabin, Komar & Melamid, Grisha Bruskin, Natalia Nesterova and other great artists who represented the Russian art in the United States at that time.
After this dizzy american success Sangalov returned to Moscow, where he underwent a personal drama, then an illness. He broke contact with the outside world. He is left with only one thing in his life – painting.
The works presented in this catalog are put together under the title “Still Lives”. The most figurative style borrowed from the classical painting becomes an almost abstract image. The objects disappear, dissolve into the picture space, leaving behind only their ghosts, their essences. The compositions are deliberately static, often repeated. The pictorial language is built on the exploration of retinal effects of color, and provides a feeling of an ethereal painting existing somewhere outside optical perceptions. The color replaces the object. The square format and the mobility of picture (if turning on each side) finally break the boundaries of the genre, and allow for any transformation: from still life to landscape, from landscape to mask, etc. In this deliberate confusion, it then becomes very difficult to recover some space, the mobility creates a vibrant and unstable painting surface.
The theme of the ash repeated in later works of the artist fully illustrates his desire to plunge into the material, to catch the elusive vibration of the world. Echoing Barnett Newman who extoled the art “in which the form can be formless”, Sergey Sangalov makes comments on his ideas : « The ash is a preservation of objects and a loss of form. This is something that already existed once. Any form is merely our perception. We see projections. Any object is only a projection of our consciousness. The ash is the quintessence that has no end and no beginning. »
It is difficult to classify the work of Sergei Sangalov within existing art currents. By combining different techniques of painting and drawing and balancing between figuration and abstraction, he expands the concept of color possibilities and takes the viewer beyond the obvious, revealing to him an invisible world.
by Natalia Sagova