Oleg Kudryashov

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City landscape and its inspiration

Marina VaizeyMarina Vaizey THE SUNDAY TIMES, 30 JANUARY 1983

'The Moscovite Oleg Kudryashov (b. 1932) left Russia in 1973 and now lives in Brixton. He is a major artist, who works with a method inimitably his own: drypoint, working directly On industrial zinc plate with his needle, drawing with great speed, printing only one impression, himself, from the plate ( although the plate may be reworked to make another evolving composition), often on paper already drenched with colour. The result – work of the past three years - form an exhilarating display at Riverside studios, Hammersmith.

The scale, whether large or small, is somehow comfortable, allowing our gaze to scan the complexities which are offered, and to absorb various incidents with peripheral vision. The colour, applied in cascades and sweeps of gouache (occasionally watercolour), is in various combinations, sometimes as melting, soft and elusively suggestive as our island sky, rivers and sea, sometimes as harsh, bold and brilliant as New York by night. The composition is printed on top of the overlapping layers of colour, or sometimes simply on the plain white creaminess of the paper, and sometimes the colour – or black ink - is used in isolated patches. The compositions use freely drawn geometric elements - circles, rectangles cascading across the surface. Curls of metal from the plate are pressed into the paper, gleaming like quartz in stone.

Many of the works inhabit an area between painting, printmaking and sculpture: they are wall-hanging reliefs, made by superimposing two prints, on two sheets of paper, and cutting and slicing through the uppermost print.

Kudryashov has always lived in cities, and city structures -terraced houses, receding rooftops, narrow streets - are the impetus for his drawings. What he has done - with the subtle richness of black and white, the lively vibration of colour, surface, textures - is to take off from the vocabulary of the Russian Suprematists and Constructivists, give at shake to their abstract geometry, and join it to another kind of visual freedom, the exhilaration found in certain kinds of ‘ lyrical abstraction, an abstract expressionism.

The work is marvellous: intelligent, ceaselessly interesting and beautiful. The painter, collector and writer Sir Roland Penrose, has helped to finance exhibition and catalogue through his Elephant Trust. And contributed a lively introduction.

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