Portraits of artistic victory in the face of a repressive regime
The most wondrous art has often arisen from mourning, hardship, loss and suffering. This is the case of the works of artist Arkady Remennik-- a revolutionary artist who emerged despite political strife and repression. Remennik is not, however, simply an artist who made it against all odds. His ingenuity in developing new frontiers in art processes has contributed an exceptionally unique advance in the discipline of visual arts.
Who is this
visionary whose pieces have been exhibited in artistic centers such as
Moscow, Washington, Paris, Leipzig, Tel Aviv, and London? Who is this
artist who was awarded the first Soviet art-process patent ever issued?
Besides his against-the-odds art triumphs, Remennik's explorations of novel art processes and tools are fascinating. His very own engraving-on-paper technique and his portraits on wood are two Remennik innovations which deserve our attention.
works were often made while riding on Soviet trains half a century ago.
These faces reflect the weight of the epoch in which they were created.
The Engraving on Paper technique he created was perfected in those bursts
of artistic frenzy. The spontaneity is evident in both his candid portrayal
of his subject matter and in the media which he used. Sometimes the scarcity
of art resources led Remennik to use scraps of wallpaper to put down his
creations. This technique, Engraving on Paper, was developed by Remennik
as an antithesis to traditional printmaking. This engraving process, unlike
printing, produces unique works with each print. Just one engraving can
create as many as 120 unique artistic pieces. Additionally, the original
piece is made as a sketch, which forms a mutable template of deep gashes
and paper movement used directly for the unique "prints." The
process produces textured prints with an overall soft effect-making it
difficult to discern that the work is a print at all.
tempera paintings "Portrait" and "Landscape" (currently
exhibited in the Small Impressions exhibition and previously exhibited
at Christie's exhibition hall in London) embody the essence of
his patented creation. Remennik is also well known for his portraits engraved
on small wood panels. His collection includes over fifty such unique portraits.
His artistic production also includes monotypes.
Arkady's managed to graduate from university despite the avant garde nature of his work,which was not welcomed by a system with strict policies regarding "acceptable art." Arkady did not follow the prevailing dogma despite the threat of punishment that hung over the artists of his time. Instead, he insisted on being authentic. Unfortunately, this caused him problems in both his professional and personal life.
Remennik's circumstances went beyond what we usually consider those of a starving artist. Starving artists live and breathe their art for sustenance and their artistic freedom. Remennik was an exiled artist (Uzbekistan), often with no food or shelter, forced to work on cotton plantations, while his artistic pursuits were suppressed by Stalin's regime.He went hungry both physically and artistically.
In 1956, rebellious and headstrong, Arkady returned to Moscow despite his imposed exile, and participated in the risky organization of an art studio by the name of "New Reality." The studio grew rapidly despite the lack of government approval. The Artists' Union of the former USSR placed constant stumbling blocks in the path of the New Reality group. It was only during the Perestroika that the studio was eventually recognized, a recognition which led to a large-scale exhibition of Remennik's studio at Moscow's Manegz Exhibition Hall. Two of Remennik's works were purchased at this exhibition by the Union of Artists of the USSR. Once oppressed, now embraced by the oppressors, it was a moment long awaited for by Remennik and his compatriots.
A multidimensional artist whose many varied pieces (e.g. watercolours, monotype, oil, engraving, drawings, book designs) search out the majestic in the faces and landscapes he renders, Arkady's struggle to live as a free artist honed his talents all the more. In accordance with his Engraving on Paper signature technique, Remennik is committed to artwork that is at once moving and in consanance with the struggle and the contradictions of his own artistic emergence.
by Karine Rashkovsky
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