Oleg Kudryashov

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A New Dimension

Ronald PenroseThe problem of transferring the vision of what we see to a two-dimensionai surface has troubled the artist ever since he felt his way around the rugged Wails of a dimly lit cavern. Even then the sensibility of primitive man induced him to use the accidental hollows, protrusions, asperities or smoothness of the rock to help him to give relief to images of the prey he needed to capture and also of himself as a hunter enhanced by magic powers.

However, for many centuries since we have in general been content to enjoy the convention of representations of life skilfully depicted so as to deceive the eye of a strictly flat surface, the only exceptions being those made by sculptors who adopted a compromise in the bas-relief. But Oieg Kudryashov has dramatically revolutionised this time-honoured tradition with a new interpretation of inhabited space executed in relief. He has discovered with geometric precision how to express his feelings about the world around him in constructions made with shapes that seem to emerge from a flat background as though they originated from beneath and come out towards us, welcoming our exploration of the heights and depths between them.


The path that led him to this invention began. While living in his native city, Moscow, and it has widened and become more decisive since he made his home in London. His work is motivated hy the urban landscape which he knows intimately, za scene that is dominated by endless terraces, tali concrete buildings and factories, punctuated by narrow Winding alieys and occasional trees. These have always heen the surroundings that dominated and stimulated his imagination and in which he has captured the poetry of the World of industry and its companion, desolation.

With the skill of an experienced artisan, who can use his tools with unfailing precision, he has given the visual arts a new dimension. Painting is no longer confined to a flat two-dimensional illusion. ln his hands it now conveys a new sense of space. In relief the constructions are animated hy iight and shadow in a manner that evokes the architecture and the atmosphere that surrounds him. They have the rhythms of the anguiar shapes of crystals greatly magnified so as to resemble those agglomerations of buildings and parks that constitute a great city.

But rather than use solid masses of plaster, metal or wood, Oleg has chosen as basis the classical technique of dry-point etchings printed on his own- pressnn strong, thick paper. Every print is unique and impressive in its own right. In their original condition the prints, both large and small, have a sensibility of line and luminosity which gives great delight, but not content with their two-dimensional effect, he then takes a knife and cutting with admirable precision he arranges the pieces into rigid three-dimensional compositions which are akin to cubist paintings but in relief. Many of these works are greatly enhanced by transparent washes of colour applied to the monochrome print. This produces a landscape in which the eye discovers the greenness of trees, the vaporous blue of the city sky or the fierce glare of neon lights. They are held together by compelling lines and the rhythms of the blackest of shadows that penetrate into the depths of industrial life.

By startling and convincing statements Oleg reveals to us a new vision ef the wonder and misery of our conternpoary environment. Contrasts of light and darkness made by the angular interplay of the planes are augmented by subtle detail and local effects of perspective that exist in the etchings themselves. He has invented an original and eloquent language to give a new version of our consciousness of space both close to and distant. He presents us with object-paintings into which the eye can wander and we have only to move in front of them, changing our viewpoint, to alter the shape of the landscape and watch the light illuminating or casting shadow on what appear to be the roofs and chimneys of our dark interminable cities or, changing miraculously, they become mountain peaks in an arcadian landscape through which Oleg leads us on to new discoveries.

Roland Penrose

September 1982

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