(E-E) Ev.g.e.n.i.j ..K.o.z.l.o.v Berlin
(E-E) Evgenij Kozlov “New Classicals” and Timur Novikov “New Russian Classicism”
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Classicals and Classicism
I already stated that Evgenij Kozlov’s cycle from 1989 / 1990 “Новая Классика”, (“Novaya Klassika / New Classicals”) has no reference to classicism, either in style or in content. 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. 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.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.
Works from the series were first shown in Leningrad in July 1990 at the legendary legendary first “Exhibition on Palace Bridge”, and in October of the same year at the exhibition “Нежность и Мужественность. Я люблю Калифорнию” (“Tenderness and Virility. I love California”) at the Exhibition Halls of the Leningrad Organisation of the Union of Artists (LOSKh). This exhibition at LOSKh also presented works of members of the newly founded New Academy of Fine Arts: Timur Novikov, Georgy Gurianov, Denis Egelsky, Andrey Medvevev. Although Kozlov, just as the core of the “New artists”, did not join the Neo-academics, there was, at that point, no strict division between artists groups when it came to showing their paintings publicly.
In 1991, Evgenij Kozlov explained the terms ‘Classical’ and ‘New Classicals’ in an outline of his ideas regarding ‘the art of the future’. As discussed in the introduction, 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.
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."
We can juxtapose this statement with Timur Novikov’s manifesto from the same year, 1991, “A Few Thoughts on the Strange Phenomenon of Neo-Academism”. In this text Novikov refers to the “classical European culture” (интерес к классической европейской культуре), using “classical” in a more conventional way, as a treasure of beauty received from the past. This past has to be defended against the „secret enemies – renegades“ of culture destroying art and in turn, beauty, i. e. against (Western and especially American) modernists and postmodernists. They “take the culture that bore them and use it like parasites”, devoid of respect, “claiming others’ success as their own” . To Novikov’s mind, resistance against such pressures on the European culture can only be effective when coming from Russian Arts activists, as in them he sees a natural capacity of altruistic heroism.
The preservation of European classicism therefore takes on the form of a “Kulturkampf”, of a political-cultural battle, although it is not quite clear whether in Novikov’s eyes the Neo-academics are really fit for such a battle: he freely admits that they may appear “absurd and out of place in this situation”; “like children frolicking around the statue of Apollon in the temple of art which has been abandoned in a panic by the clergymen”. We can see that there is an attempt to confer upon the Lovers of Beauty a deliberately innocent tone: this gives Neo-Academism a tendency towards theatrics, as in the videos of Olga Tobreluts and Andrius Venclova or in the paintings by Viktor Kuznetsov and Oleg Maslov.
With the acropolis of Athens in the background, Timur Novikov, whose eye sight had by now completely deserted him, is presented open-eyed as the blind seer Homer. Novikov is surrounded by the most prominent Neo-academics, either presented naked or in colourful togas: Georgy Guryanov, Andrey Medvedev, Andrey Khlobystin, Olga Tobreluts, to name just a few. The Painting’s composition is reminiscent of Raphael’s fresco “The School of Athens”, where many of the figures were also given the features of the artist’s contemporaries, the most prominent example being Leonardo da Vinci as Plato.
The only figurative painting from the 1990s, a portrait of Sergei Borisov, keeps the neo-expressive manner similar to his portrait of Erik Goroshevsky from 1984. On the other hand, his neo-academic works, applications and collages on textile, use technical means of expression Novikov himself had defined as characteristic for the New artists: “re-composition” and the rejection of stretchers or even the traditional canvas surface and oil paint.
Kozlov’s idea of Beauty becomes clear in 2009, when he coins the term “CHAOSE ART”, defining it as a general approach of art of the XX century by such artists as Vasily Kandinsky, Jackson Pollock, Willem de Koonig, Cy Twombly, Sigmar Polke, Jean-Michel Basquiat, Jonathan Meese, Artur Zmijewski, and to which he ascribes his series “Century XX” (2008 – 2014): due to the lack of a compositional plan, the work of CHAOSE ART develops its own composition in the process of creation. It accepts chaos as it is and, at the same time, turns it into a higher order. This results in meaningfulness — a harmony which, in turn is a synonym for Beauty. Harmony is a spiritual quality, it creates the “spiritual layer” of a work of art, and this “spiritual layer is located between the paper and the paint applied by the artist.“ The spiritual layer is what remains when all matter is destroyed.
“However, the essential thing is not what people read, not what they think about what someone has thought before them, but their personal development– people feeling and seeing the inner world of the artist for themselves, perceiving it as something great and powerful. It means people become confident in their own creation, confident in the art that exists within themselves. Perhaps the observer will think in a different way to the artist, but this is not important. As an individual being, each person is so unlike every other that there is no sense in copying something made by someone else. One should develop as differently from others as possible. Perhaps that’s why ‘the art of the future’ exists: to develop the individual within each person to the greatest extent possible. Whereas today it is whatever someone writes or says that automatically sets the standard. [...]The picture is created to give birth to the observer’s inner world and to produce an impulse for them to develop this world as much as possible. That is what art exists for.”
In view of this discussion, it would be interesting to compare not only the views, but also the works of Evgenj Kozlov and Timur Novikov — two artists of a similar background who shared not only many years of artistic activity, but whose work or presence left an impact on the artistic production of the other.
However, this has not been the aim of this paper. Rather, the focus has been on their perceptions of the creative process, of related notions that are understood differently: classic and classicism, beauty and harmony. These differences constitute the deeper reason why Evgenij Kozlov kept away from Neo-Academism, quite irrespective of the fact that Timur Novikov narrowed the scope of “art” in his public statements.Hannelore Fobo, October 2014.
Last updated: 22 November 2017
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 Yuris Lesnik's video on the exhibtion http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JUvFRY6oKl0
 Evgenij Kozlov, Oleg Kotelnikov, Ivan Sotnikov, Vadim Ovchinnikov, Inal Savchenkov, Sergei Bugaev. Ivor Stodolsky also adds K. Khazanovich, V. Gutsevich, V. Tsoi, G.Gur’yanov and A.Krisanov. Ivor Stodolsky, “What is Dead When a Russian Nonconformist Dies? The Construction of “Eras” in the Obituaries of Timur Novikov (1958 – 2002)“ Retrieved 31 Oct. 2014 from http://www.academia.edu/3812842/_1985_-_2002_. N.B.: Georgy Guryanov did in fact become a member of the Neo-academics, but in the 1980s he was predominantly a musician.
 According to this theory, just such a creative process entails the intelligibility of its product, for an inner process can only commence when the product is potentially intelligible. The product will therefore inevitably be understood, sooner or later.
 “Несколько мыслей по поводу такого странного явления как Неоакадемизм”, 1991. Retrieved 31 Oct. 2014 from
 “Подобное стремление к корням культуры ее тайных врагов - отщепенцев усиливает деструкцию и превращает «детскую болезнь левизны» в искусстве в смертельно опасный недуг.” Ibid.
 “Такая трансформация позволила поколениями экспериментаторов черпать из этого культурного слоя без всякого почтения к «материалу».[...] «Самоотпилившиеся» модернисты начали паразитировать на породившей их культуре, выдавая чужие успехи за свои.” Ibid.
 “Но одной из важнейших составляющих образа отечественного деятеля культуры всегда были самоотверженный героизм, резистентность - константой.” Ibid.
 I use this well known German term in reference to Ekaterina Andreeva’s article “Timur Novikov’s 10 Lives“. She calls Novikov a “Kulturträger“, literally a “carrier of culture”, or a patron of culture. Examining the political side of his role, she stresses Novikov’s playful attitude towards it: “Having declared war, Novikov would immediately call on a cessation of hositilities.” “Timur”, Moscow Museum of Modern Art, exhibition catalogue, 2013, p. 37.
 В этой ситуации «неоакадемисты» выглядят нелепо, абсурдно, просто неуместно. Как будто ничего не произошло, «с хорошей миной при плохой игре», как дети малые, резвятся они вокруг статуи Аполлона в храме искусств, в панике покидаемом служителями. “Несколько мыслей ...” op.cit.
 “Whilst there was a biblical edge to the punk painting of the New Artists, there was a punk inflection in Neo-Academism”. Club of friends. Timur Novikov’s NEW ARTISTS and the NEW ACADEMY. Calvert 22 Foundation, 2014. Exhibition catalogue.
 “Искусство древней Греции именно с помощью состязаний выявлялo наиболее красивых телом, чтобы создать объективно прекрасные каноны для поклонения.” T. Novikov: Georgy Gurianov, 1996
 Timur Novikov, 2003, examples on pp. 309, 310, 311
 Timur, 2013, p. 181
 Ibid., p. 141
 Ibid., p. 129
 N.B. “it” instead of “in”
 Timur Novikov, “New Russian Classicism”, 1996, in: Timur Novikov, 2003, p. 47
“Therefore the beautiful is characterized as the pure appearance of the Idea to sense” Georg Friedrich Hegel, Aesthetics: Lectures on Fine Art, translated by T.M. Knox. Volume I, Oxford University Press, 1975, page 111.
 See http://www.e-e.eu/Century_XX/index.htm for a group of seven graphic works from 2009 entitled “В бешеном. 1 состоянии. 2 развитии. 3 желании. 4 движении. 5 потоке формы, любви, гармонии по поводу всего, что в мире происходит, и главное того, что творческая личность производит в том бешеном потоке каждый день, точне-е каждый час, минуту и секунду ...” (“In furious. 1 condition. 2 development. 3 desire. 4 motion. 5 stream of forms, love, harmony towards everything that goes on in the world, and most importantly, towards what the creative individual produces in this furious stream every day, or rather, every minute and second ....”)
 Retrieved 31 Oct. 2014 from http://www.e-e.eu/CHAOSE_ART/CHAOSE_ART_text_eng4.htm
 Retrieved 31 Oct. 2014 from http://www.e-e.eu/CHAOSE_ART/CHAOSE_ART_text_eng1.htm
 Retrieved 31 Oct. 2014 from http://www.e-e.eu/CHAOSE_ART/CHAOSE_ART_text_eng2.htm
 as shown by the title of one the works from Kozlov’s “New Classic” cycle, “Love for Beauty”.
 “ästhetischer Zustand”: “[...] und wenn man den Zustand sinnlicher Bestimmung den physischen, den Zustand vernünftiger Bestimmung aber den logischen und moralischen nennt, so muß man diesen Zustand der realen und aktiven Bestimmbarkeit den ästhetischen heißen. Friedrich von Schiller: Über die ästhetische Erziehung des Menschen, in einer Reihe von Briefen. 20. Brief. 1794. Retrieved 31 Oct http://www2.ibw.uni-heidelberg.de/~gerstner/Schiller_Aesthetische_Erziehung.pdf
“[…] and if we call the state of sensuous determination physical, and the state of rational determination logical or moral, that state of real and active determination should be called the aesthetic.” Friedrich von Schiller “On the Aesthetic Education of Man in a Series of Letters” letter XX, 1794. Retrieved 31 Oct. 2014 from http://www.fordham.edu/halsall/mod/schiller-education.asp
 “Accordingly, the personal worth of a man, or his dignity, as far as this can only depend on himself, remains entirely undetermined by aesthetic culture, and nothing further is attained than that, on the part of nature, it is made profitable for him to make of himself what he will; that the freedom to be what he ought to be is restored perfectly to him.” Ibid, letter XXI.
German text: “Durch die ästhetische Kultur bleibt also der persönliche Werth eines Menschen oder seine Würde, insofern diese nur von ihm selbst abhängen kann, noch völlig unbestimmt, und es ist weiter nichts erreicht, als daß es ihm nunmehr von Natur wegen möglich gemacht ist, aus sich selbst zu machen, was er will – daß ihm die Freiheit, zu sein, was er sein soll, vollkommen zurückgegeben ist.” Schiller, Ästethische Erziehung. Op.cit.
 “[…] indem der Mensch auf den Gipfel der Natur gestellt ist, so sieht er sich wieder als eine ganze Natur an, die in sich abermals einen Gipfel hervorzubringen hat. Dazu steigert er sich, indem er sich mit allen Vollkommenheiten und Tugenden durchdringt, Wahl, Ordnung, Harmonie und Bedeutung aufruft und sich endlich bis zur Produktion des Kunstwerkes erhebt, das neben seinen übrigen Taten und Werken einen glänzenden Platz einnimmt.” Johann Wolfgang Goethe: Winckelmann. See chapter „Schönheit“. First edited in: Winckelmann und sein Jahrhundert. In Briefen und Aufsätzen, hg. v. Goethe. Tübingen (Cotta) 1805. Quoted after: Johann Wolfgang von Goethe: Berliner Ausgabe. Herausgegeben von Siegfried Seidel, Berlin 1960 ff.
 “Diese Erklärung des Schönen kann aus der vorigen Erklärung desselben, als eines Gegenstandes des Wohlgefallens ohne alles Interesse, gefolgert werden“. Immanuel Kant, Kritk der Urteilskraft, Kapitel 14, §6, 1790.
Retrieved 31 Oct. 2014 from http://gutenberg.spiegel.de/buch/kritik-der-urteilskraft-3507/14
“This explanation of the beautiful can be derived from the preceding explanation of it as the object of an entirely disinterested satisfaction.” Immanuel Kant, Critique of Judgement. Translated by J. H. Bernhard, London: Macmillan, 1914 pp 55 /56. Retrieved 31 Oct. 2014 fromhttp://oll.libertyfund.org/titles/1217
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