Evgeny Yakovlev

... if the artist starts explaining what he has done - it will be like a child caught for prank and called to account. Not the fact that he will tell the truth...

Every artist has an innate need to visualize what is hiding under the surface of trivial things. The most basic manifestation of this need is a close look at something. Good art, "right" art presents to the viewer’ eye what previously eluded their vision; it shows the process of the gradual emergence of the essence of objects from the darkness of primordial chaos. The art of Evgeny Yakovlev is an excellent example of this.
Yakovlev's works are recognizable, unique and — I’d like to add almost reflexively – they don’t look like anything we know. Yet just that last statement is impossible to make. It’s a paradox but everything personal and subjective that is there in Yakovlev’s works carries many features, influences, and circumstances that are objectively significant for contemporary art. At the same time, we can say for sure that the space of his art localizes artistic activity of exclusively heuristic kind. Each work, being distinguished by accentuated personal expression of his artistic individuality, demonstrates an act of existential cognition, a continuous path from the inaccessible to the comprehensible.
Out of the variety of art forms, Yakovlev often turns to paint since the finely tuned optics of the latter is able to capture all the facets of subjective visibility of things — of the outside world in unity with the artist's consciousness that perceives it. Like a magic mirror, Yakovlev's paintings, in an amazing, transforming way, reflect a lot of things and phenomena that have long been known to the art, but they all acquire a different appearance, a different potential and a different mode of existence. Due to the unceasing virtuoso transformation of the seen into the amazing, his art appears as a unique phenomenon, a kind of self-developing thing that takes place and time in the current artistic process.
Evgeny Yakovlev's art is usually defined as abstract expressionism. The reason for this is the intense chromaticity and the energetic impasto typical for his painting style as well as his echoing of many masters of the second half of the twentieth century that has been rather obvious in his different artistic periods. Yet it is important to point out a certain difference, perhaps a slight one at first glance. The exciting world of classical sensuality in expressionism is always the existential drama of life, whereas Yakovlev's interest in free brush movements and their accidental results is not so dramatic. The artist focuses more on the kinematics of images than on their dynamics. His is the art of a geometer rather than a thespian. Indeed, to swirling strokes, to throngs of blots and spots, to unsteady colorful haze Evgeny prefers large and distinct planes, extended and dense color plans, which, while moving within the canvas, attract and repel each other in the search for a shaky balance.
Yakovlev’s art almost excludes the traditional genres such as still life, landscape or portrait. Inner states of consciousness, thoughts, and feelings - that are needed the thing. His canvas then becomes like a scene, a theatrical stage where possible parallel versions of objective reality are played out. I must say Evgeny is a surprisingly attentive and keen observer. And his ability to give sharp and familiar characteristics to the occurring or hypothetically possible in one exact color dab devoid of manifested physiological traits often exceeds all expectations.
There was a time when zealous adherents of the avant-garde demanded to remove from each art form all that’s alien to it, leaving only its specific properties. Thus they removed everything pictorial from poetry to show the pure sound of a language or a pure text form; they removed everything imitative from music except for the purest sound; they removed everything mimetic and narrative from painting to demonstrate the pure combination of forms and colors. Of course, open visualization of phenomena that generally elude our tactile experience sometimes alarms the public as an unambiguous reminder of the limitations of human cognition, which is able to perceive only a small part of the outgoing signals from the world. However, an artist always has an opportunity to go beyond sensual experience, overcoming the limits set by human nature.
Perhaps Yakovlev can be described as an abstractionist, a follower of tashism because even minimal figuratism in his works is read as a part of abstract compositions. He captures some special states of contemplation when an object fluctuates on the verge of the visible and the invisible, sometimes disappearing in the abyss of abstraction, sometimes coming up to the surface. Sometimes the real world fully recedes, dissolving into abstract visual schemes. At the same time, Evgeny's paintings are narrative and psychological in their own way, the artist’s personal intonation is always there. His observation and involvement in real human life are probably rooted in deep features of his personality and character, although it has a biographical origin as well. After graduating from the Architectural Department of the Far Eastern State Technical University, Evgeny merged into his profession and in his regulated daily life, there was a danger of losing touch with art. Thus he got a need to capture the stream of life, day after day, not only plastically but also thematically. It is obvious that this need is directly related to the understanding of life as a series of present moments. To prove this it’s enough to list some his paintings’ titles: "Personal Geography", "Observing Town", "In St. Petersburg to be", "Roman Roads", and "Bicycle from Barcelona". The list can continue further. Yakovlev's time continuum is being created here and now. Captured in sketches, these moments add up and shape the past as a kind of photo archive. The future is shown rarely, without any affectation (there is enough beauty in the present) and is reflected only in the scene entitled "Building of dreams".
Yakovlev indeed is quite satisfied with the present, he is by nature an optimist and there is no drama in his art. Endowed with a rare coloristic talent, he freely plays with color, material, and texture. His personal involvement and his, for the most part, ironic artistic intonation do not allow us to see in his paintings only the virtuoso art of form. These are the statements of an interested participant, not only a contemplator. It may seem that the narrative attracts the artist only as an excuse for another plastic game, but his interest in the content element of his life stories is genuine. And if we still want to find expressionistic dramaturgy, it will be the dramatic composition of short stories.
The process of art is incessant. In human consciousness, the phenomenon of continuous creativity strengthens the idea of eternity as a constant reproduction of the current moment. It also reinforces the idea of the triumph of absolute abstract entities that continue their existence beyond space and time in which they exist. Brilliant abstract painters are not many, and Evgeny Yakovlev belongs to the exclusive circle of the lucky ones. But this doesn’t make him indifferent to other aspects of reality. And perhaps this gift is a temptation and a burden of the artist who seeks to overcome them on the way to a truly deep understanding of life.
A.S. Epishin
(Ph.D. in Art History, member of the Artists Union of Russia, member of AIS (The Association of Art Critics)

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