Who is Evgeny Chubarov? Such a question is usually asked when a new player appears on stage whose presence henceforth cannot be ignored.
Indeed, this was the most frequently asked question after the sale of an abstract painting by Evgeny Chubarov at the February 15th Sotheby’s Sale in 2007, which went for a record price of any work by a Russian living artist.
It is not unusual in Russia for an artist to be unnoticed by the art community and the press until his death or until his work is sold for a significant price. Fortunately, Chubarov, whose name already appears in art encyclopedias and reference books, is alive and well. Chubarov is recognized in professional art circles and has had an active career with solo shows in the West, from Germany to the United States. In 2004, a large solo exhibition was held at the Russian Museum in St. Petersburg.
Rather than interpreting dry formal text from catalogs about Chubarov’s work, it is far more interesting to peruse what fellow artists, critics and gallerists have been saying. Below are their impressions and opinions.
Ilya Kabakov (artist): “We were guests to a living genius.” (After a visit to Chubarov’s studio with Patsukov and Pivovarov in 1978-79).
Vitaly Patsukov (critic): “He was a mammoth frozen in ice. He survived all evolution from the amoeba to modern times. He recorded it all to his “hard drive” and upon being thawed, he was able to expel all this information into one plane.”
Gary Tatintsian (gallerist): “I’ve chosen Chubarov because of his capacity to reflect, to react to what he sees, what he is told or suggested. Every one of his paintings is a universe of many other worlds, a macro world where every element of the micro world is absolutely genius and precise. Chubarov is extremely sensitive to the history and experience of art; he is in constant dialogue with new cultures that surround him. When he lived in a Russian province, he made art that came out of a very traditional Russian consciousness, deprived of intellectual culture but inspired by its mysticism. While working in the West, Chubarov worked among many catalogues and books, and yet he strove to create something totally new and not imitate what already existed. He maneuvered between figurative and abstract art. It was a kind of slalom. As a result, Chubarov separated himself entirely from his antecedents. Not wanting to compete with history, he went in a direction no one had ever explored before.”
Sam Keller (director of Art Basel art fair): “Chubarov’s works are one of the brightest impressions of Art-Moskva-2006.”
Alexander Borovsky (The Newest Tendencies Department at the Russian Museum, St. Petersburg): “It’s so witty and well made that it resembles all the best of art history combined.”
Gary Tatintsian (gallerist): “Looking at some of Chubarov’s works, it is impossible to guess who made them: a man or a woman, a young artist or an old one. They possess an extraordinary amplitude of perception that is subtle, celestial, and transparent. Although this may sound blasphemous, Chubarov’s calligraphic aesthetic and absolutely thorough grasp on intellectual abstraction is in many ways purer than that of his predecessors of “gesture painting”. It’s a molecular way of thinking, an elegance that resembles Chinese art.
You may make up your own mind about who Evgeny Chubarov really is, when you visit the exhibition of his abstract works from the 1990’s at Gary Tatintsian Gallery. You shall have a chance to acquaint yourselves with this series, which ranks among the best of abstract art in the world today, after all the commotion from the auctions has subsided.