a u g u s t  4 –  s e p t e m b e r  4,  2011

kim610 Andrey Kim: Works on Paper

As an artist Andrey Kim came into his own in the second half of the1980s, when reference points were shifting dramatically in Russian culture. A recent art school graduate, he was reconsidering what he learned at school when society went through a period of stormy changes and revision of guidelines in art. Andrey Kim first put his works on public view in 1988 on the Arbat, a pedestrian boulevard that was at the time an art forum of sorts, where many now recognized masters started their careers.

Done mostly in tempera on paper, Kim’s works formally belong to graphic art. In essence, however, they are paintings, even though the graphic component is rather pronounced in many of them. There is little sensory license in his works, that is to say, they do not look inordinately unrestrained, as is often true of abstract works. For him abstract form is not dictated by fashion, nor is it an act of despair by a confused realist. It is his way of talking to the world, the only way possible at the moment.

This explains the fact that he never stops reworking what he does. The search for representational quality is just as important to him as proving his right to use the abstract language. Viewing his pictures, one becomes convinced over and over again that even an abstract representation is still a representation. It is like a theorem that has to be constantly proved.

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The language of abstract painting is for Kim the language of a real, concrete and sensorially specific event that he witnessed. It is the language used to testify about the world, a language in which we must say something important before the Lord summons us. That is precisely why Kim stresses in private discussions that he is a Realist. This is a very serious matter to him. In art he has always been guided by Rembrandt, Valentin Serov, Manet, Marquet and Pieter Bruegel the Elder. This may seem to be coquetry or at best the desire to play on the same field with classics of world art. In reality, however, this is not true. For Kim it is extremely important not to lose the inner link with the masters whose works inspired him in the distant 1970s to take up the brush for the first time. His link with representational tradition is not formal, but deep. It is truly important to Kim not to lose it, and this is what makes him so modern.

Andrey Kim is a very Russian artist. He was never tempted by lucrative offers from abroad, although they were enviably numerous. He has exhibited in Moscow, St. Petersburg, Yaroslavl, Kostroma, New York, Tokyo, Kyoto, Hamburg, Cologne and Brussels, yet has always worked in his small studio-apartment in northwestern Moscow. He is a Russian artist primarily because for him Russia, as his one and only homeland, is above all associated with suffering. It has nothing to do with placing oneself and one’s work in a comfortable and cozy environment, as is characteristic of artists who proudly call themselves “men of the world.” This concept is one of profound empathy with what is going on all around. This indisputably Russian mentality largely determined Kim’s evolution as an artist and is still decisive for him today.

Ivan Karamyan (text published in the Andrey Kim catalogue, Moscow, 2006).


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