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(E-E) Evgenij Kozlov and The New Artists

Portraiture (1987–90)

A 143 cm zigzag-fold leaflet edited by (E-E) Evgenij Kozlov and Hannelore Fobo in association with the exhibition ‘Notes from the Underground’, Muzeum Sztuki, Łódź, Poland, 2016 more >>
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 (E-E) Evgenij Kozlov and The New Artists:  Portraiture (1987–90)

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The ‘New Artists’ (1982 – 1989, Leningrad, now St. Petersburg) are generally considered to have been one of the most important Russian avant-garde groups of the second half of the twentieth century. One member of this group of artists who remained prominent throughout this entire seven-year period was (E‑E) Evgenij Kozlov, who had been invited into the fold on his 27th birthday by its founder, Timur Novikov.

Although Kozlov preferred to create within the seclusion and quietude of his own studio, the time he spent at home or in the city in the company of the New Artists – during various events or during concerts with the ‘New Composers’ and ‘Pop Mekhanika’ – would give him opportunity to take large numbers of pictures, which would later be used for his collages and which would also become a source of inspiration for his graphic works and paintings. Focusing on specific glances and postures, in a sense the camera served the same function for Kozlov as did the sketchbook for artists of the past, while meantime also inviting his artist friends to react and create spontaneous poses.

 (E-E) Evgenij Kozlov and The New Artists:  Portraiture (1987–90)

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Portraiture of fellow artists was not unusual among the New Artists, but (E E) Evgenij Kozlov’s compositional approach differed from the approaches taken by his artistic companions, who, by and large, preferred a quick-paced, neo-expressionist, ‘wild’ type of style. E-E combined realistic elements of photography with free forms of drawing, a style he defined as ‘classic novelty’; the photo-realistic images of faces and figures are seen to lose their temporal nature and those portrayed appear metamorphosed. According to art historian Andrey Khlobystin, ‘Timur cherished them with all his heart’, while Georgy Gurianov was quoted by Ekaterina Andreyeva in her book ‘Тимур. Врать только правду!’ (‘Timur. Only lie the truth!’, 2007), saying that he ‘preferred above all others’ the portraits of him created by Evgenij Kozlov.

 (E-E) Evgenij Kozlov and The New Artists:  Portraiture (1987–90)

Works by (E-E) Evgenij Kozlov reproduced in the leaflet:
• Акула (‘Shark’, 1988; Igor Verichev, Georgy Guryanov, Timur Novikov, the Shark, Ágnes Fehdenfeld-Horváth)
• Anna Karenina 2 (1988; Vladislav Gutsevich, Sergei Bugaev, Rodion Zavernyaev),
• Портрет Тимура Новикова с костяными руками (‘Portrait of Timur Novikov with Arms consisting of Bones’,
• Автопортрет (Свободу Е-Е) (‘Self-portrait [Freedom for Yeh-Yeh]’ 1990/95)
• Портрет Георгия Гурьянова (‘Portrait of Georgy Guryanov’ 1987)
• Густав № 85 (Gustav № 85, 1987; Georgy Guryanov)
• Любовь мое солнце (‘Love my Sun’ 1989; Igor Verichev)
• Игорь, мир? Mир? – О, нет. (‘Igor, peace between us? – Peace? No way.’, 1989; Igor Verichev)
• Валера. Душа Вещей. (‘Valera. The Soul present within Things.’ 1989; Valery Alakhov)
Texts by Hannelore Fobo
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Daniel Muzyczuk (left) and David Crowley (right), curators of 'Notes form the Underground’, holding two leaflets (front and reverse)

Daniel Muzyczuk (left) and David Crowley (right), curators of 'Notes form the Underground’, holding two leaflets (front and reverse). Lodz, September 2016

(E-E) Evgenij Kozlov


(E-E) Evgenij Kozlov:  NOVAYA KLASSIKA • NEW CLASSICALS (1989–90)

E-E) Evgenij Kozlov — Notes from the Underground, Lozd, Poland, 2016

‘Notes from the Underground’, Muzeum Sztuki, Łódź, Poland, 2016. Installation view. more >>
photo: H. Fobo

(E-E) Evgenij Kozlov’s cycle from 1989 / 1990 ‘Новая Классика’, (‘Novaya Klassika / New Classicals') has no connection with classicism, neither in style nor in content.

(E-E) Evgenij Kozlov:  NOVAYA KLASSIKA • NEW CLASSICALS (1989–90)

The eight works (six motifs, two of which have both a ‘day’ version and a ‘night’ version), each in a 2 x 3 m format, represent allegories of love which the artist first developed for compositions produced on wooden bus-stop signs.

The main elements of the paintings are figurative – but all the forms are abstract, and have been placed into position using sharp-edged stencils. With some of the compositions this creates a lyrical effect similar to Matisse’s cut-outs, while others appear more sculpturesque and plastic, like the woodcutter in Malevich’s eponymous painting from 1912.

(E-E) Evgenij Kozlov:  NOVAYA KLASSIKA • NEW CLASSICALS (1989–90)

As regards the paintings on canvas, Kozlov assigned one of the seven colours of the rainbow to each one of them: ‘Любовь к Мужчине’ (‘Love for Man’, red), ‘Любовь к Работе’ (‘Love for Work’, orange), ‘Любовь к Женщине’ (‘Love for Woman’, yellow), ‘Любовь к Земле’ ('Love for the Earth’, green), ‘Любовь к Прекрасному’ (‘Love for the Wonderful’, light blue), ‘Любовь к Космосу’ (‘Love for the Cosmos’, dark blue). The seventh motif, ‘Любовь к Богу’ (‘Love for God’, violet) has not yet been realised. 

The artist’s heritage, which harks back to the constructivist artists, is evident in this series, but the figures he has created represent new archetypes, and the way they relate to each other is new: they are ‘New Classicals’. In other words, upon completion of the series, Kozlov expressed, via the title, his idea that although they were new, the works had already become classical.

In 1991, Evgenij Kozlov explained the terms ‘Classical’ and ‘New Classicals’ in an outline of his ideas regarding ‘the art of the future’. The main point is to define ‘art’ as ‘the art within’ (‘the art of the future’), a complex inner or spiritual process which the human being expresses via something tangible to the senses – the ‘work of art’. A ‘work of art’ is, therefore, something that has somehow been ‘actualised’. Evgenij Kozlov calls this material result ‘the classical approach’ to art: a work of art cannot be anything but classical in nature.

(E-E) Evgenij Kozlov:  NOVAYA KLASSIKA • NEW CLASSICALS (1989–90)

As a consequence, attention must be given first and foremost to the process of which – according to Evgenij Kozlov – people are gradually attaining a degree of conscious awareness:

‘Beyond this classical approach, the truly new direction in art is that which evolves within the person who is at one and the same time creating it. To understand this art in terms of all its implications, a certain inner freedom is required, a freedom which also needs to be present in terms of external factors. What is essential is that the person feel and see those forces within him or herself that are helping to create this new work within the inner realm. If one feels these forces, and is aware of them and can see them – if this world comes into being within oneself, then regardless of what one creates, the same will be intelligible and indispensable to everyone else. For what transpires within to allow this art to develop internally exists only to lend visual form to the given information. It thus becomes impossible to deny it its visual existence. The artist’s task is to give it visual form.’

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Uploaded 2016
Last updated 9 February 2021