That Which Remains
What remains after all decor is stripped down to our bare bones is what makes us who we are. What happens when we are forced to see this part of ourselves?
When diagnosed with Crohn’s Disease, artist Yuri Leonov became forced to see his young life from a new perspective, and to rely upon modern technology to keep his angry immune system at bay. Through his art, Yuri explores how he feels rooted, stuck and limited by those tools that are intended to help him, and what Remains of his self: past and future. His explorations extend out to the world at large, how our own artificial advancements remove us from what is most important and the paradox of how our efforts are quite possibly leading to our downfall.
Yuri pulls no punches. His work and the ideas behind it are wrought with emotion: questions about life and memories of the past. His work is introspective, offered to the world en masse as possible catharsis for all of us suffering from mortality. Yuri’s is a case of illness in youth, yet he is a very strong and determined individual; honestly he looks very healthy. His work is very well thought out, emotional, meaningful and intelligent. His art is not his heart on his sleeve.
Taught old master technique as a boy in Russia, he has some serious old master technique chops in his arsenal, yet he is not a realist. Much of his work is abstract and his paintings which incorporate realistic figures, interiors and landscapes are often created with non-traditional mediums including bugs and his own spit. “Though the work is figurative the initial structure is an abstract framework of composition that allows the series to be interpreted as a unified body.” Additionally he adds meaning to his painting technique (the use of unmixed white paint, for example, is used on several works in this series as a connective visual element), and each series of paintings tell a story of growth, change or realization. There are very strong concepts underlying all of his works, some of which he describes openly and some of which he has chosen to keep private.
A personal and philosophical description of his work:
Remain, which focuses on my own shortcomings and limitations is my most intimate and personal body of work to this day. The strange conviction of self-importance is present in everyone, all of whom will undoubtedly leave this realm of existence; and so all of us attempt the best we can to avoid the inevitable constraint of time by shifting the significance of existence to the things we attempt, or pretend to know. We ignore the larger, unknown to us, scheme of things in which our whole existence is just a miniscule fragment of the general process far beyond our control, instead focusing on trying to control what we think we can.
As such, control, time and scale are the major concepts I have explored in Remain. The act of making art is an excellent example in itself: convinced by a blind ambition that this determination will somehow hold back the weight of time, and prolong my existence even if in a non physical sense. After developing and now living with serious health problems, I have also developed a solid understanding and a persistent reminder that I will die, along with everyone. What will remain?
Over the summer, I visited Yuri in his new studio. Pics below:
[slickr-flickr tag=”leonov visit” items=”20″ type=”gallery”]
Remain will be on view at the White Rabbit’s White Box for only a short while longer. Some works have sold and others are still available for collection. To view them online and for further details about his exhibit, please visit the Remain gallery here.