Swimming Pool / Alexander Dashevskiy

Alexander Dashevskiy

Swimming Pool

16 Oct - 21 Nov 2009

What can be more pleasing to the eye than the tradition of conveying density of water and light penetrating through it? Alexander Dashevsky aspires to seem a vigorous successor to this tradition – as he claims to work in the New Rough Style.

The Russian academic art has always wanted to be rough: to hold on to a formal and serious dialogue, to carry on with a monologue without any inappropriate anecdotes or obscene evidence, to sharpen their technique and methods without any springing media exercise, to defend the classical painting’s right to create composition and lay paints on canvas in accordance with all the long established rules to the bitter end. Academism is carried away with plastic arts: they strive to find the most effective perspective, to set up lights, and consider all the possible shades of meaning. Swimming pools can be different: filled with water or drained, ready to boost their users with all the morning energy, or abandoned and dusty as if in Pripyat devastated by the Chernobyl accident (pictures from where have once impressed Dashevksy). The academicians were eager to systematically fix all of them, providing all the references and attributive indexes necessary.

However, Dashevsky went further: from the heart of academic figurative painting, he is trying to find a way back to abstraction. In other words, by means of an almost photograph-like reproduction of visible reality laboriously put through the academic sieve, with all those ruined tiles and plastic lane dividers, the artist tries to work with shapes only. In fact, he actually concentrates on geometry and color hues. One would think that his aspiration is doomed to failure, since painters of the 21st century are usually expected to decide if they are realists, surrealists, abstractionists, or something else – once and for all. Make up your mind and proceed this way. Nevertheless, Dashevsky is looking toward destroying this stereotype. He is trying to be all in one, wishing to create some all-embracing painting, which in his opinion optimally matches today’s global world with all its quirks.

In the end, the artist’s peering into the water surface with a paintbrush in his hand becomes a challenge for the audience: it seems to be impossible to determine the appropriate distance to look at his works. Figurative from a distance, they become abstract when you come closer, and the limits are so wide and blurred that you can hardly feel them. Here, there is no fixed "view point": there are plenty of lines that you can follow, moving closer to the picture and away from it, living through the birth and dying of tension between the figurative and the abstract again and again – as a personal drama of modernist abstraction VS classical empathy. Roughness of this contrast showcases the essence of Dashevsky’s rough style, its irreconcilability in relation to visible reality, which he sees in a single way: it has to be taken to pieces, catalogued and reproduced on canvas. The artist is far from flirting with reality, as he has put it on duty to serve as a means of enhancement of his painting skills. “These pictures make the viewer stand enraptured in silent admiration”: this vague cliché, so often used to describe artwork, is absolutely inapplicable when it comes to Dashevsky’s swimming pools. Looking for a point of comfort in front of these works you’ll have to walk – or swim, to talk – or shout. 

Thus, pictures painted from life and represented as abstract sketches: what more can the audience be looking for? Living through their moment of presentness (which is just an elusive moment between piers of the past and the future, systematically becoming history), the audience has to look for some consistency in these works, for some acknowledgement of their own existence. Fixing "the new past" in his rough figurative and abstract canvas-based formulas, Dashevsky aspires to cease the rush of the future, to minimize its invasion into the everyday routine. That’s why his works are infinitely nostalgic, worrisome, painful and ferociously touching in their zealous attempt to imprint the existence as it is. Dashevsky appeals to the feelings of a lonely viewer, crystallizing his unique experience for the audience tête-à-tête and offering them to live it through and appropriate it, making this experience their very own one. This revelation hypnotizes the viewer, while Dashevsky keeps creating all the conditions necessary for that.

Dmitriy Ozerkov