CANVAS, blog by Saatchi Art, First Look: Golden Future by Igor Bleischwitz

 

At a glance, Igor Bleischwitz’s paintings are reminiscent of the vivid color fields of Mark Rothko. But rapid paint splatters and jagged cuts interrupt the placid surfaces, revealing glimpses of other images lurking underneath. In each painting, Igor creates, destroys, and finally excavates these pictures beneath the surface, slashing through his final layers of paint to provide just a glimpse of what once ruled the canvas. 

The multitude of paint layers that have been built up and scraped away turns these paintings into historical records, registering each moment in time in the process of their creation. Born in 1981 in the Kazakh Soviet Socialist Republic, now part of present day Kazakhstan, the Berlin-based painter is attuned to the cycles of history and its currents of destruction and rebuilding. Born out of the pandemic, Igor’s new series urges us to contemplate our relationship with the past, and the collective name Golden Future suggests we view these works through a lens of hopefulness as well.

Tell us a bit about yourself and your background as an artist.

I had my first experience with art when I was a child. My hometown in the former USSR was visited by the cosmonauts very often. I was fascinated by space flight and all the space missions and started to make some collages and drawings about it. Later nature became a very important inspiration. Maybe that’s a reason why my work is often about the Unknown, a Secret, and Time.

What inspired this particular series?

The Golden Future series was inspired by the, let’s say, current issues on our planet like wars, natural disasters, the Coronavirus pandemic and other manmade crises. Hope is a very thin layer above all this.

Speaking of layers—can you walk us through your process of creating one of these paintings, from beginning to end?

The visual aesthetics of the Golden Future series exploits the tradition of Abstract Expressionism and the art of Mark Rothko in particular. The space of the canvas is filled with horizontal colorful blocks, but in contrast to the American artists, I am breaking the smooth surface by mechanically cutting [into] the paint. The technique includes the following steps: a realistic portrait or still life is created, then it gets painted over several times with solid colors. When the paint dries, the top layers are scraped off, and the original pattern begins to show through. The work is carried out instinctively, therefore the exposed fragments rarely show what was originally created.
As the complexity increases, texture and depth appear, creating the multilayer effect.

How does it feel to paint over your painstaking, realist images?

It feels very painful. A finished realistic painting is done and ready to be shown. At the same time I have this idea in my head that it is not enough. So in this moment I start to analyze which colors are significant to create a color code of this realistic motif. With these colors I paint over the [original] motif and work it out.

What does this process of hiding and rediscovering paint layers mean to you?

The process of creating works is similar to the life cycle of frescos. The drawings on the walls of ancient temples and mansions have been painted over with new images over the centuries in similar ways. Today, these antique images are carefully peeled by restorers seeking the original. On the contrary, I pay attention to all paint layers, comprehending and conceptualizing each of them, as well as the process of the artwork’s creation. Painting, therefore, turns into performance, and each stage forces me to reincarnate. I start off as the author of the image, then I turn into the vandal who paints over the work. Following that, I take on the role of a restorer, who carefully removes the later layers. Finally, like a true archaeologist, I maintain layered fragments and keep the historical stages.

You liken your process to archeology—how does your work explore our instinct for preservation?

The desire for preservation has always been the priority—nothing should be lost and forgotten, and every stage of work should be seen and understood. Oblivion means death, and fear of death is the strongest emotion that has always haunted humanity.

 

Bethany Fincher, curator at Saatchi Art. 

"Abstract ..ism", by Artfully.com

Mirroring the torn posters seen all around Berlin, Igor’s work impresses a futuristic feeling, yet is inspired by things of the past such as history, ancient cultures, myths and old faiths, as well as nature and science.

The layers often expose a realist object behind the more abstract top layer. Igor sees himself as translating the nature of human life into his work.

These are mysterious artworks which take the energy of a curious mind to understand - there is a message here, but the artist is not giving much away.

Mirroring the torn posters seen all around Berlin, Igor’s work impresses a futuristic feeling, yet is inspired by things of the past such as history, ancient cultures, myths and old faiths, as well as nature and science.

The layers often expose a realist object behind the more abstract top layer. Igor sees himself as translating the nature of human life into his work.

These are mysterious artworks which take the energy of a curious mind to understand - there is a message here, but the artist is not giving much away. Perhaps some clue is derived from the series names: Utro, Gravity (left - based on the pole shift theory) and Pars pro toto both from the series "Schein und Sein", which translates from the German into ‘Appearance and Being’.Pars pro toto by the way means ‘a part or aspect of something taken as representative of the whole’

“Pars pro Toto” has been used both as the name of an artwork and as a series in which “NUDE II” and “Lily Tattoo” both show the transformation of a human body into a landscape. Because the artist paints his portraits from real life, ‘Lily’ reveals a fragment of the models lily tattoo. “ELENA” also part of the “Pars pro Toto” series is a portrait of a young woman, a “colour scale” of the person.

Igor’s unique approach has defined his style, he says “I always paint in a realistic manner. but at the same time I want to go deeper. The second step is to rework the finished piece. That means I paint over that picture again and again, so that at the end we see some fragment from the realism which was present in the beginning. These fragments are never planned, but are created intuitively”. The artists explains “The fragments in my pictures are full of information. But this information is not visible as a whole. The models I paint, I never met before. I just asked them by accident to sit for a portrait. That situation is actually a fragment itself. The fragments are also a kind of meditation on and in the colour surfaces which are always painted horizontally. A horizontal line or stripe symbolises landscape, a line between earth and sky, motion, flow. Like the flow of time and all the fragments of the past in it”. “The abstract top layer colours come from the subject underneath, for example I might paint a portrait and see wonderful red on the lips, blue in the eyes and maybe green because the model loves green shoelaces”

Igor remembers one of his best reviews was of his first solo exhibition: the writer totally understood the whole concept without any interview with him, a wonderful moment.The artist graduated from the Hochschule für Kunst, Design und Populäre Musik in Freiburg im Breisgau, Germany in 2011, and has had many solo and group shows. His works are in several private collections in countries such as Germany, Great Britain, the USA and Switzerland.

The artworks are deceptively large and so are an attractive option both from a visual and a cerebral standpoint.

"In Farbe getränkt"

Tinatin Ghughunishvili-Brück
Kunsthistorikerin M.A.

 

In der zeitgenössischen Malerei wird die Wahl des Bildmotivs als einer der wichtigsten Indikatoren für die künstlerische Positionierung des Schaffenden betrachtet. Das Motiv eines Kunstwerkes ist der Titel seiner komplexen Geschichte, in gewisser Weise das Unterbewusstsein des eigentlichen thematischen Gegenstandes. Die Komponente, sowie der Entstehungsprozess der einzelnen Werke lassen sich lediglich erahnen. Der Weg von einer Idee zum „konkreten“ Bild, oder von der weißen Fläche bis zu einer Komposition in Farbe und Form ist ebenfalls sehr subjektiv. Diese Diskrepanz eines Kunstwerkes zwischen einer intimen Substanz und einer öffentlichen Bestimmung ist der Grund seiner immensen Wirkung. Das Spektrum dieser Wirkung reicht von Faszination bis hin zum Unverständnis oder gar Abneigung.
Igor Bleischwitz dämpft diese Intimität in seinen Arbeiten durch die Autonomie und Intensität der Farbe. Aufgrund ihrer räumlichen Präsenz, ihrer greifbar-satten Struktur und ihrer Materialität kann die Farbgebung seiner Gemälde als monumental bezeichnet werden. Die außergewöhnliche Farbdominanz wird hier eingesetzt um die Subjektivität des Kunstwerkes zu verschleiern. Auf diese Weise wird die Aufmerksamkeit von einem Gemälde im Speziellen auf die Ausdruckskraft der Malerei im Allgemeinen gelenkt. Ein ambitionierter Weg und eine außergewöhnliche Leistung.
Die Gemälde von Igor Bleischwitz deuten eine Verbindung des abgeklärten Neoexpressionismus mit den surrealen Szenarien an. Die Auflösung der Formgrenzen und eine mäßige Deformation zu Gunsten der Verschmelzung des Gegenstandes mit seiner Umgebung charakterisieren die Formsprache dieses jungen Künstlers. Vergeblich sucht man nach Relevanz oder Vorlieben. Die pastöse Materialität des sterblichen Fleisches à la Chaim Soutine wird von Igor Bleischwitz mit ähnlicher Eindringlichkeit gezeigt wie die ätherischen Landschaften des Geistigen seiner Bilder.
Diese spannende Gleichberechtigung zeichnet einen authentischen, suchenden Künstler aus, der den Betrachter immer aufs Neue zu überraschen vermag.
Es ist uns eine besondere Freude, die Werke dieses jungen, erfolgreichen Künstlers einem breiteren Publikum zeigen zu dürfen.