METHAMORPHOSES OF AVANT-‐GARDE: VLADISLAVA IAKOVENKO
In most of the cases, Art history books represent an orderly panorama of the linear development of various artistic styles and movements, attempting to form them up in chronological order, one by one. But such generalized scheme doesn’t take into account numerous nuances of art history periodization, like parallel existence of Gothic and Renaissance, simultaneous emergence of Classicism and Baroque, not mentioning the fusion of all movements and trends, known as ‘avant-‐garde of the 20th century.’
However, there’s an alternative view, which perceives the entire art process as oscillation of a pendulum between major poles of the artistic means. One of such global oppositions is the opposition of linearity / picturesqueness of a piece. Famous contemporary art historians, Hubert Damisch and
Rosalind Krauss, explored the interrelation between image and surface of a canvas in the works of differen epochs. Both scientists have articulated their personal comprehension of painting’s essence; the joining of their ideas shapes up an integral picture of the pendulum movement between two form-‐building conceptions – of /cloud/ (creating illusion of depth and space) and grid (accent on the flatness of image).
In her works, young Ukrainian artist Vladislava Iakovenko aims to find balance between these two
methods. Being unsatisfied with mimetic and narrative character of Academic art, she follows the pass of avant-‐gardists of 1910s – 1920s. It was exactly the time when painting looked for the answer concerning the essence and uniqueness of its own language. This led to the radical shift from the plot to the visual qualities of a canvas: masters were enchanted with the absolute self-‐sufficiency of compositions, texture, and colour. They rejected the attempts of objective depiction of the reality after realizing the value of their own
Vladislava herself points out the connection of her pieces with Suprematism, though they are closer
to the aesthetics of Orphism, which had originated in French art in 1910s. Despite inheriting the principles of geometrization of forms and exaggerated flatness of image, typical for the oeuvre of Malevich and his followers, the artist pays main attention to the poetics of colour. As well as the orphists, she ‘sculpts’ space and varies its depth and density through hues, its intensity and combinations. “Simultaneous contrast is the most up-‐to-‐date honey of this technique in this field. Simultaneous contrast is visible depth – Reality, Form, construction, representation. Depth is the new inspiration,” as Robert Delaunay wrote in his notes, the founder of Orphism.
Vladislava applies the mentioned methods of Abstract painting working on figurative compositions.
She ‘grows’ a sort of painting crystal, mosaic of pure forms and lines that blends into familiar images – landscape, portrait, nude. Complicated structural and colouristic scheme adds the artist’s pieces certain dynamism, typical for our days; at the same time, they seem to remain in timelessness.
Yet, in some of the paintings, the traces of reality become rather tangible. The events of recent
years on the Motherland that has affected Vladislava’s life, prompted her to create several collage works
dedicated to the Revolution of Dignity and war on the East of Ukraine. Painting was combined with photography and newspaper clippings that allow depicting tension, deep dramatism of the situation and personal experience of the author.
Doubtlessly, Vladislava Iakovenko is still searching for her creative identity, however she has
already made herself known. The painter has analyzed the heritage of avant-‐garde and its philosophical background, interlacing it organically into contemporary context and avoiding the intentional epatage and spectacular nature of contemporary art.
Brief biography: Vladislava Iakovenko was born in 1988 in Makiivka (Ukraine). She had graduated from Dontesk Art school; after that she continued her education in Kharkiv State Academy of Design and Arts (2007 -2011) and Kyiv State Institute of Decorative and Applied Art and Design named after M. Boychuk ( 2011-2013). She lives and works in Bratislava (Slovakia) and Kharkiv (Ukraine). An active participant of international art and social projects, and plein airs.
Oleksandra Osadcha, art critic
Artists are the ‘eyes’ of society. Their works help humanity to comprehend things that are happening and memorize them. Artists give us a chance to overcome the traumatic experience and revive over and over again.
It’s natural that tragic events that took place in Ukraine during recent years have affected the art of young masters. Revolution and war became one of the key subjects of contemporary Ukrainian art. It’s noticeable that works dedicated to these issues are distanced from ‘flag-waving’ and bravura, defined with ultimate tension and depth of emotional experience. This can be especially felt in the pieces of such artists as Vladislava Iakovenko.
Vladislava was born in the city of Makiivka, located in Donetsk Oblast. Although she had moved to
Kharkiv 6 years before the star of the military operations on the East of Ukraine, they have directly
influenced her relatives, forcing them to live their homes. A large-scale piece Lost Motherland (2014 - 2015) is a kind of artistic response on such emotional shock. The author has chosen the collage technique for this work. Collage embodies the feeling of sorrow, surrealism and absurdity of the whole situation in the best possible way. Fragments of reality (cityscape of Dontesj, newspaper headings, photoportraits, bullets), pulled out of the familiar contexts are merged into absolutely new
A kid’s gaze, the word “bylo” (Russian for “it was”), burnt banknotes – all these powerful details
‘hit the mark,’ prompting viewers to experience the feeling of ground crumbling under their feet – the feeling all displaced persons, who escaped from ATO zone, had. This way Vladislava attempts to reach the hearts of those who are still sheltering in the world of their illusions and ignore up-to- date political situation. As Albert Camus wrote, “As soon as war becomes real, any opinion that
doesn’t take into account starts sounding inadequate.”
Another work that reflects the artist’s thoughts on the recent ages of Ukrainian history is View
Revolution 2014 года. In a certain sense Revolution of dignity became a milestone which divided the life of present generation into ‘before’ and ‘after.’ Applying collage technique anew the author creates a sort of a pictorial chronicle of the events that happened during winter 2013 – 2014.
Mass-media and social networks played a key role in the course of revolution. That’s the reason the artist applied newspaper clippings and screenshots of the various news resources with information about Euromaidan as the main material. She attempts to merge them into a symbolical junction using colouring: the canvas pasted over with articles’ printouts and photographs, was covered with the layers of paint of various thickness. Thus an ochre-brown ‘fire,’ which reminds of the fume from the tires the protestants used to burn, appears on the familiar (though subdued) yellow-blue background. This method allows avoiding romanisation of the theme despite a huge temptation to follow such way. Vladislava talks not about heroic deeds, truth and falsehood: she dares to show revolution with all Chaos and destruction it brought, but in which such crucial understanding of the unity of the country and its people was born.
Oleksandra Osadcha, art critic