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Anatoly Baratynsky

About the artist

«…in which there would only be one space»

Artist, Anatoly Baratynsky, has often, and justifiably, been referred to as an experimenter – because, on his artistic journey he has combined new painting techniques of his own invention with techniques already known, and, while using those traditional, classical techniques, he has invented a non-traditional, uniquely individual approach to them. Also, he combines with great gusto all mechanical means of artistic vision. Is it not himself, his own artistic journey that the artist depicts in one of his canvasses of the series called “Medicine”? In it, over the sign “Pharmakeutes”, a typical alchemistic activity from the Middle Ages is in progress, featuring flasks, retorts, salamanders and other characteristic attributes. However, the object of all this frenetic activity is not the mythical philosopher’s stone but rather a living person – a patient. It is important to understand that the “experiments” of Baratynsky would be much less attractive if they were dedicated solely to the technical aspect. The experiment that the artist conducts in his art has long ago left the sphere of quest for non-standard manners of painting; it extends to the ever distant plains of an artistic cosmos. But before speaking about the new experimental spaces, let us review several significant milestones of the “evolution” of the artistic workshop of Anatoly Baratynsky. Several years ago the artist turned to ordinary water colour painting, with all of its still uncovered potential, and achieved such virtuosity that an unsuspecting viewer was left guessing as to which technique was used in making the textured sheets. With the water colour works as a stepping stone, Baratynsky has moved to work on associative images and has produced a series of abstract compositions – the eternal search for the harmony and antagonism between colour and form. However, after some time, the artist has become attracted again to figurative images, and thus “graphic” canvasses have been produced, and already several studies have being written about his unusual painting technique (the technique is variously called “daguerreotype”, “photo-monochrome”, or “pixel”).

What are the special experiments of the master except the “secrets of the artist’s studio?” First, it is an experiment with time, an attempt at the materialization of time as representative of the unity of different histories (the history of family – in the series of works “My not so distant ancestors,” the history of science – in the series “Medicine,” the history of architecture – in the images of ancient Italian synagogues and modern towers of Tel Aviv, the history of nature, the history of the arts …) – with the help of existing artistic techniques. In our imagination, time and history are always associated with a definite spectrum of colours: for example, most people perceive the period at the beginning of the XX century as a slightly distorted monochromatic picture of yellowish tint, which is dictated by the fact that our memories are exactly thus preserved by cinematography and photography. Using this effect, Baratynsky is daring enough to impart the sense of time into his works.

Second is his experimentation with the viewer. It is possible that there are artists who paint for eternity and for God and who do not need common mortals contemplating their creations. However, Baratynsky appeals to the eye’s retina and to the brain of a concrete person. The viewer’s eye is enslaved by captivating auxiliary elements of the picture, like a bird in the cage (it is not for nothing that the artist uses a certain semblance to cells-pixels). And is it not this that the poet Leonid Aronson wrote about in 1968?

There is a silence between everything. One.
One silence. A second, a third.
Full of silences. Each of them is:
the material for a net of poems.

And a word is the thread. Pass it through
the needle and you make a window with word-threads –
now silence is framed
and it is the cell in the net of a sonnet.

The greater the unit, the larger
the dimensions of the soul that’s caught up in it.
However abundant the catch it will be less

than that of the fisherman, who dares to dare
to tie such a gigantic net
in which there would only be one space.

(Translated by Richard McKane)

Third, is his experimentation with himself. To the question “Who is an artist?” Baratynsky replies jokingly: “A thinking person with a good imagination and a good knowledge of materials and their chemical peculiarities.” But, maybe, it is not a joke. Positioning himself as a representative of the “new realism,” he is not contemplating fitting himself into limiting frames. Building on the thought of his predecessor-conceptualists that “the only worthy goal of an artist is generating ideas and concepts,” Baratynsky shows graphically that material means are intended to play a role not only in stimulating the imagination, but also in acting as a mirror that reflects the personality of an artist.

Michael Korol

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