When you first look at Piotr Antonow’s paintings, you may be inclined to imagine they are examples of realism. You may want to look again...on second glance you will notice a tension and a certain disconnect between the lines and the color fields in the images. If you follow this lead, you’ll find that the lines come and go, sometimes multiplying instead of describing the objects in the image, often swaying on their own, living a separate life which constitutes the beginning of an abstract image only loosely connected to main subject of the painting. Similarly, the areas of color loosely wrap around the form, and where least expected bare the uncomfortable lines of an underlying drawing, which at first appears unfinished and requiring a secondary layer, but on further study, reveal instead a purpose either of leading you toward a certain detail, or simply keeping your eye moving in certain directions. What's more, color areas emerge here in varieties: from totally flat, strong color blobs that penetrate different planes of the picture’s space, (often with complete disregard for typical photographic perspective, putting closer negative spaces further and vice versa), to swathes of color requiring closer examination toward the surface of the work, which reveals all of the color tones mixed into a single brush stroke directly on the picture. These images are not here to make you comfortable, and if they do, then you must not have paid close enough or long enough attention . While this show deals mostly with relatively traditional Studio Nude poses, the overall approach is anything but traditional. Even though the works themselves are not intended to invoke any additional literary content or specific message, they do draw the viewer into the world of mixed paint, invoking miles of depth created within no more than quarter of an inch thickness of the acrylic or oil on board.
Marina Nemtseva is all about lines. She has an unusual talent for striking an absolutely perfect line in one quick move after a time of motionless concentration. All the gradients between white and black are here, and usually come from former lines dissolving during the process of establishing the planes of the picture. With a solid academic background of live figure study, she still manages to retain the freshness of the touch of a child. The images she creates are so emotionally charged that Marina often has to fight the impulse to damage them at the first dislike. Very often the images that inspired her deepest hatred seconds after creation, with time, become her favorites. If you buy a picture and it bears signs of abuse, you may have a caught a diamond: she was probably ready to destroy it in a frenzy shortly after creation, only to rescue it from the waste basket, dedicating hours toward rescuing it. When examining Marina’s charcoals in depth, you’re immediately drawn into analogies to famous renaissance and baroque painters, and in fairness, few working artists are able to realize the type of layered, three dimensional curves the way she does. But when you look further, you will ultimately notice an underlying modernity in how she uses the human figure as a pretext to unfold sophisticated composition, and how her lines have their own meaning, leading your eye around the picture separately from the mere object that the image is portraying. And this is how Nemtseva and Antonow have found themselves in one show together: with the common denominator of searching for abstract composition in a superficially traditional picture, the Studio Nude.