Please join us for an artist reception for

DIMITRI KOZYREV

Saturday, January 6th
6P until 8P

In the Heights

G Spot Contemporary Art Space

WINTER WAR

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

My interest in the intersection between actual, physical landscape and mental landscapes, coupled with recent world events, led me to reflect on the ruins of war and the human impact wars leave behind on landscape. Modernist, constructivist methods of rearranging pictorial space are used to reflect on the scars that wars have left behind, mentally and physically, but also the way that landscape and nature heal these scars and how the events and people who created them become forgotten. I have titled this body of work "Lost Edge." I use the word "edge" because I draw a comparison between the notion of the avant-garde in war and the art world. In the early 20th Century, the avant-garde was at the height of its importance in both realms. Now, however, I maintain that just as the concept of the military avant-garde has been "lost," because of changes in methods of warfare, the avant-garde in the contemporary art world, has also lost its edge.

The source material for this body of work is images of ruins of the once mighty fortifications of the Mannerhiem Line, built to protect Finland from the advances of the Soviet military avant-garde. Finland's attempt was valiant and not in vain; however, this war and the lives that were lost in 1939 are largely forgotten. The fortification lie in ruins, and nature is slowly reclaiming them. Similarly, the "cutting edge" of the contemporary art world seems to have become blunted. Viewers of the avant-garde work of many visionary artists of the early 20th Century were shocked, challenged and inspired by The Malevich's Black Square and The Urinal of Marcel Duchamp. Because of changes in society, like changes in warfare, it has become difficult for today's contemporary artist to generate the same level of response without resorting to vulgarity.

Dimitri Kozyrev was born in 1967 in Leningrad, USSR. He moved to United States in 1991. Kozyrev received his MFA from University of California, Santa Barbara in 2000 and his BFA from Ohio University in 1997. Since then Kozyrev has had multiple solo shows at Cirrus Gallery, Los Angeles, Mark Moore Gallery, Culver City, CA, Benrimon Contemporary, NY, NY, David Richard, Santa Fe, NM, Golf Coast Museum of Art, FL and most recently Breese Little, London, UK. He has also been in a number of group shows at museums and galleries in New York, Chicago, San Francisco, Dallas, Tucson Amsterdam, London, Krasnoyarsk (Russia). Reviews of his work have appeared in The Los Angeles Times, The Chicago Tribune, Artweek, Artforum, Huffington Post, Art Itd., Artinfo, Wall Street International and many on line publications. For the past ten years , he was a Professor of Art at The University of Arizona, Tucson, Arizona. He lives and works in Austin, TX.

 
About G Spot Gallery
Call 832-807-6988
310 East 9th Street, Houston, TX 77007
In The Houston Heights
 
 
Images and ideas are not for commercial use. Art, music writing and all content subject to U.S. Copyright laws.
TM + © 2000-2017 G Spot Gallery. All rights reserved.