An Owl Perched On An Arm $13,500 framed Status: Available
Selected Works Still on Show
Ilya Volykhine ‘Bi Polar Bear’
Exhibitions Gallery of Fine Art, 20 Brandon Street, Wellington
or phone 04 4996356
The exhibition title comes from Volykhine’s loose grasp on the English language and with this title he laughs at himself and his inability to understand colloquialisms. Often at once perversely funny and poetically contemplative, Volykhine’s power lies in his ability to occupy multiple positions at once, and ultimately to implicate text and image in a slippery production of meaning.
Born in 1966 in St. Petersburg, Russia then Leningrad, USSR Volykhine is part of a generation of artists who came of age in a war-torn, divided country. He spent his youth in the Soviet Union, and received his arts education on benches at the Hermitage.
His paintings are characterised by a unique combination of realism and surrealist abstraction using figures. These figures, though squarely centred in his paintings, often have the appearance of being part of still life. Scale is frequently arbitrary and nonperspectival, and differences between the characters seem to allude to different time zones or planes of existence.
Volykhine continues this collage-like approach to his paintings using text in his native language of Russian in Cyrillic as a note to both his sometimes disjointed narratives as much as his personal history. While similar figures reappear throughout Volykhine’s compositions, each of his works nonetheless emerges as a selfcontained entity–a standalone epic complete with its own unique storyline. Volykhine refers to this sense of integrity as a painting’s “nervous system,” a metaphor which also elucidates how the otherwise arbitrary and often otherworldly narratives retain a sense of plausibility. As he notes, “As soon as I have the feeling that the thing has blood circulating through it, a nervous system, a backbone, then questions as to the message become…almost inconsequential”.