Artur Vasilevich

Mishin Fine Arts

ARTUR V ASILEVI CH

Save Your Soul, 20] 0, diptych, 112 "x159", mixed media on canvas

Misbin Fine Arts is proud to present a retrospective exhibition of Artur vesitevich's paintings, 25 years of grandiose, epic works from museum exhibitions, private collections and tile ertist's studio. "Yesilevicti's paintings propel us to abandon ego, give up obsessions and strive to a higher plane to see the cosmic unity pure, timeless, massless, and divine." (M. Miller)

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Red Sun, 2009 30"x30", oil 01] canvas Private collection

Through The Veils of Men

Artur Vasilevich, world-accomplished artist, is the creator of works ranging from paintings and sculpture (in museums) to stained-glass commissions (e.g., National State Gallery, Minsk, Belarus), to restorations of 16th - 19th century churches in Europe, to monumental frescoes and ceiling cycles for notable collectors, and public entities. He earned his PhD in Painting and Mooumentsl Art at the Minsk State Fine Art Academy, and his MFA studies comprised: mural, fresco, mosaic, stained glass, glazed-ceramics, egg tempera, and oil and watercolor techniques.

One can see how tbis gifted "cosmic philosopher" is in his bailiwick over broad swaths of studio and applied arts: that be is just as capable of transcendent easel painting as he is of enormous, word-paintings. By use of a shallow-to-deep set of grounds, he implies that those more deeply lodged into his pictorial spaces are more divine, cosmic, universal. soulful, and essential. Ego, terrestrial life, and personhood, are illustrated in his top-grounds, as if the layers closer to the viewer are ephemeral, illusory, and venaL

Across a broad set of painterly devices, Vasilevich deploys a scrim technique to distance foregrounding from deeper layers within his compositions. In some works, biomorphic forms are sparingly laid on an invisible scrim that's closest to tbe viewer's space. In others, strings of beautifully limned lines from the Bible hang closest to us. Finally, in Vasilevich's perhaps most subtle, etherealized works, it is the figure itself that baffles three-dimensional, visual penetration.

With a water/oil-resistance technique, Vasilevich unifies the various layers of these groundschemes with an energetic, yet nebulous white "lace" that seems to explode forth with what could be taken as water, snow, rain. But given the white-wash that unifies disparate levels, it is more likely a signifier of heavenly or cosmic essence, pointing us to a meditation on higher Truth. Vasilevich does not proselytize, so the viewer is teased - almost by riddles ~ to experience the ultimate depths of his vision.

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In the first case, heavily paint-pooled, "biomorphic" forms dangle from the top ground. (They look like those magnetic shapes we toyed with in childhood, perhaps derived from mid-century modem design that is so valued and collected today). These forms interrupt, but do not overwhelm, the total painting, as much as create an invisible glass curtain that holds the abstract shapes aloft - again, closest to us. All other layer-levels push back into the pictorial space, and thematically, plus huewise, become the cosmic space that informs the soul of Vasilevich's entire oeuvre. Examples, in which the biomorphic scrim is deployed, are The Collector (PA), Scream (PA), and On the Rocks (p.5).

These forms, so familiar from high-modem art (Mira, Dali, et al.) vie with, and are alien to the deeper grounds which are all unified by, lets call it, "Vasilevich-white", Its blotting and scumbling are Vasilevich's hallmark technique achieved by his own oil/water resistance process. It allows him to finely linm his "lacy, liquid, snowflake-like" white, that carries out or denies the thematic unity of layering a ground plan. His scrims either conflate or separate levels of scrim. By adding the figure(s) to the deeper layers among his various ground levels, persons, as such, become emneshed in the painting's heavenly back-story, as if to proclaim the unity of mankind with all things natural and cosmic.

In each case named above, Vasilevicli's biomorphic overlays, which appear to be thickly applied latex, are replete with dents and scars, as if to detail and enliven their insertion onto the pictures. So treated, they step into the viewer's space from their translucent front plane. As we may remember, this was a dynamic device of the Baroque: to invade the viewer's space. Along with his 'white explosions, Vasilevich's evangelical sprezzatura allude to "Romantic Expressionism," van Gogh or E. Delacro ix being grand examples of this modality and to the Grand Sty Ie's currency throughout much of the. 19th century (contra neo-classism).

Anything but baroque in form, these shapes and blobs interrupt the totality of the overall work, as if Vasilevich dismisses art as non-essential to his vision. As these shapes push forth or hang near us, they seem to out-boast the deeper figure/nature/cosmos ground(s) behind this invisible, artificial veil. They exceed toward us as a symbol of art - our most revered cultural form.

In one fine work The Collector (p.4), a young man reaches into the sand at the beach to collect stones. A thick, latex-red "biomorph" or art detail surmounts his bathing shorts, a paint-pooling technique that appears no where else in the composition. At once, one is struck by these simple signs conveying tension between material and non-material worlds. Even an air of argumentation seems tangible between the artist qua maker vs. his consciousness ofeternity's realm, which is here not a thing nor feeling, but a given.

One of mankind's most basic natures is to be acquisitive, as anyone can see watching Wall St. moguls collecting the most toys to die with. This quality of gathering and collecting has been fundamental to our species since its emergence on earth, and earth-bound it is! Stooped over to satisfy his quest, the young man is bent over the sand, unaware of his coalescing with the non-material, natural realm implied ~ on, behind, and around him, thanks to Vasilevich-white comprising him. (Also see On the Rocks, p.5)

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Scream,2010, 70"x96", oil on canvas Pbotogreph; courtesy of Nestotius DeKelaita

The Collector, 2002, 70"x96", oil on canvas PllOtograph: courtesy of Nestor ius DeKelaita

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On the Rocks, 2009, 30"x30", oil on canvas

Ligiu and Heav-y, 2009,30"x40", oil on canvas

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Sand Drawings, 2009, 30 "x30", oil on canvas

A Walk, 2009, 30',)(40", oil OD canvas

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Another subset of the exhibition at Mishin Gallery, San Francisco, is Vasilevich's tour-de-force word-paintings, whose heavenly and cosmic grounds - lush-to-energetic =invite us, once again,

i . .h d . r 1 . f'hi w ks 0 h fr .. ·d" rd . "d .heir i b di . 1 .. bib

nto the eeper iayers or ms or .. n the tront ground, wo -stnngs o their job, ispiaymg .-

lical quotations: "Love thy neighbor as thyself," etc. - same as the blobs do, above described. These inspiring and sacred commands -translated face-en-face into many of the world's languages. Even though the translations convey sacred meaning, they are man-made, art-like alphabets, that here are magnified as human invention. There is a deeper Truth hiding behind language and religion that no hieroglyph can describe. This most potent, serious set of works of in the show, tbe grouping includes the diabolic Save Your Soul (p.l), Words of Fire (p.7) and the equally epiphanic Invasion (p.9-1 0) that is part of this suite in spirit and content.

Words of Fire, 2011, 60 "x 1 04", mixed media on canvas

Ever above earthly matters, Vasilevich, as you would expect, bangs these "word pictures" close up, on the shallowest ground - while his gorgeously drawn backdrops beckon. (Or hellacious dogs rush the viewer!) One almost feels a si.gh of relief, as Vasilevich cools to the danger of faiths and alphabets gone wild. It is in his luminous skies we sense a more essential, holistic, cosmic GodTruth,

Though sacred writings are thought to better connect us with divinity, we must strip ourselves of man-recorded faiths and of our self-consciousness to attain Supreme Truth. Instead of religious trivialities, he says, be in tbe moment - tbat cosmic cliche tbat anyone hip on the planet has come to understand. Why? The moment is all that is: if we dwell on the past, we suffer; if we future-trip we fear. This moment is where Truth resides, and where It Connects to what Is. Whatever It Is, there is an unknowable, intuition - fel t Big connection, far, far more powerful than man's gift for speecb, our human nature, and our concepts of God.

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A Man, 2000, 70 "x30 ", oil on canvas

Vasilevichs ground plans remind us of the everlasting, not the passing style, fancy, culture. If only we, like his deepest grounds, we were not distracted by surface instincts, we might approach Being in connection to the deepest Truth that Is.

In addition to their beauty and ideas, Vasilevich's paintings propel us to abandon ego, give up obsession, and strive to a higher plane than tbat of the material. The artist's scrim technique matches his theme: move your body/mind level away from the shallows of self,

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Invasion, 2011, 80"x205", mixed media on canvas

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The main body of the show comprises at least twelve works of great subtly and magnetism. Having taken us into the progressive territory of modernism and word-art, Vasilevich explores the eternal, as does the immortal Sistine Chapel, whose Michelangesque figures Vasilevich quotes, himself being a respected painter of sacred chapels and ceil ings.

In fact, in one of these works Dragon (p .1.1) one is taken back to any of the remarkab le ''Last J udgments" of the European Renaissance. On the front ground we behold a circle encompassing the damned, whose writhing and screaming take us back to Old Master pre-cursors. At the top of the work, tension reigns, as the masks of Day and Night, Good and Evil divide. Day sleeps, while Night or Evil rules, a turban-shaped cloud of perturbed energy emanating from Evil's masterly drawn profile. But the theme that man's sins still blight the world is rescued by the super-fined idea that again speaks through grounding. Even as the damned are flung from paradise, and Day and Night face off, all of the artist's imagery is executed on rough-wove canvas or burlap. The crudeness of the weave on which his content is laid, is then back-grounded by a fine, blue stained canvas ~ smooth and tight, yet retaining a field, if you will, of molecules. Quite methodically, Vasilevich seems to declaim that even nature's Day and Night, and the Good and Evil of natural law and natural right do not inhabit the cosmic order.

Dragon, 2001, 70"x60", 011 on bw·lap

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The paintings Expectation ofa New Millennium (p.13) and The Beginning" (p.12) take on even more daring disclaimers: in the first case, that even love and new life, embryonic, are ephemeral, as are mothers, not to mention our civilization (New York Skyline). In the second case the very idea of being an embryo or even A PLANET does not rise to the level of eternal Truth. Being is bigger than human. life, just as the new-born's before-or- afterlife will more likely approach essential Truth than his terrestrial ones. In The Beginning (p.12) I consider to be the most pure metaphor or vehicle for Vasilevich's ideas.

Tile Beginning, 2002, 70"x70", oil all canvas

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Expectation of a New Millennium, ] 999, 70"x50", oil on canvas

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Another masterpiece is Imaginary World (p.14). It directly follows on the theme that, even children in innocent wonderment, everything seen for the first time, are the most unguided by life to Truth. The adults surrounding him are distracted by their thoughts, and that the child's perception of the horse and scenery (brilliantly, Picasso-esque: Rose Period) seems more wonderful.

Imaginary World, 1998, 50"x60", oil on canvas Private collection

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In Opposition (p.1S) Vasilevich delivers his most covalent trick of theme: what looks like the Christ child turns back from his mother's arms to look at the viewer, rather candidly, or as if beckoning the viewer to enter the painting. Mother and the retinue of the prayerful around her are scumbled and undefined by line, backs to us, to seem farther inset than the Baby. As the prayerful seem about to enter the Divine, one could guess this to be a depiction of heaven. With a brilliant twist, Christ, who will grow to be divine allowing us to transition from the mirage of our lives to the highest Truth must suffer the terrestrial limitations of flesh and blood.

Opposition, 1991, 38"x78", oil on linen

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Stunning and haunting Dove 's Flight (p. 16) also deals with the mirage of Christ' s actual blood and heart's not being the Essential Eternal. The picture sees Christ in the heavens on Vasilevich's back-ground, while the spilled chalice, being a material thing or manmade icon, again dangles in the shallow pictorial space.

Dove's Flight, 1997, 50"x40", oil on linen

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In a related painting Almost Rea ven (p. 1 7), Vasilevich outlines a large pyramid (geometry) whose base and top-point describe the margins oftbe painting's vertical and horizontal dimensions: a triangle inscribed in a rectangle. Yet the pyramid is divided into a diptych by a horizontal line that bonors the Old Masters' Golden Mean. Two separate paintings within the divides span the life of Christ. The top section is a Madonna and Child, Christ again looking directly at the viewer, while tbe bottom contains the Virgin, Martha, and St. John embalming Jesus' body. Vasilevich uses the icon of a newly born Christ in the upper part as if call ing us to eternity because of his birth, even though he is not old enough to speak, as his adult corpse did before being killed. Behind the pyramid, on Vasilevich's essential, back-ground, is the most beautiful depiction of the heavens.

Almost Heaven, 1997, 32"x48", oil on canvas

In The Grail (p.lS) Vasilevich achieves a sort of poetic infallibility. Here, each icon is impeccably placed within the composition, but there is no translucence, unity, nor tension among the layers of his ground plan. As in a great poem, this brilliant work is honed and polished to contain the. sparest imagery: Vasilevich only gives us the few visuals essential to the proposition it envisions. Furthermore, as in poe try, Tbe Grail (p .18) is designed so that image, idea, and structure are interrelated simultaneously, a sort of perfect conflation- a mode of genius called poetic unity.

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Christ's chalice bas spilled red blood/wine onto an immaculate and compositionally large white table-cloth that is banded underneath by a background blue. The perspective is from the ceiling, directly down onto the table. Atop, and deeper into the ground-space, three science-fiction-like, sfumato rectangles hang as a separated triptych with smaller sfumato rectangles glowing white inside of each panel. One senses these as sacred tombs, whose gIow(s) may represent three recently deceased persons, wrapped in white shrouds. The artist seems to be hinting that the deceased, now wrapped in radiance, have passed, or are now passing into a higher connection to cosmic Light.

Yet deeper behind, is Vasilevichs last ground, limned dark blue, suggesting a ground-plan of this order, shallowest to deepest: ta ble-tablec1otlllspjJ led-cbaJj ce/rectengle-triptyca/becl: -gtouud- blue. The front-grounding trivializes, or en-shallows the list above, while the deeper grounds imply passing-on as a gate into the deepest universal Truth ~ far beyond religion or its ceremonies. The artist has created a ground-plan in which neither religion, nor symbols like white are as important as this implied, deeper, cosmic trans-substantiation. Vasilevich's deepest ground, while not conjoined to the other planes with Vasilevich-white, is as unfathomable as our ultimate Future, a term Vasilevich, in tum, renders meaningless by e=mc-. Ifit can be imagined, described, or seen, it is not It!

The Grail, 2010, 90"x120': mixed media burlap on canvas

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011 Foreign Land, 1990, 36"x28", oil on linen

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America I, 1997, 32"x48", oil on Iinea

The second diptych in tbe exhibition (the first being Save YOUT Soul, p.l) is entitled America I (p.20) and America II (p.21). Carrying througb the quotation of Picasso's Rose Period in terms of temperament and paint handling, Vasilevich again goes back to the Baroque with a space quite like Veronese's in "The Wedding at Cana," (Musee du Louvre). The subject, however could not be any different: the bi-chronic relation of free' men to slaves.

In the foreground ofAmenca I (p.20), two massively muscled men, one kneeling and chained, the other standing, are contrasted to a group at left of Hellenistic children and their laurelled teacher/guardian. In the upper right space, a geodesic matrix holds up a space in which color dazzles more varied, and near which a line of black youngsters are playing with great fun. The upper right, above the Greeks, remains Arcadian blue. The tunnel-matrix creates a three-point perspective that is the equivalent of Vasilevichs multiple ground devices: it communicates a brigh.t future for all, even as it pusbes back our memory of Greek civilization and ideals, and slavery. Through its depiction of the time of slaves, the painting updates itself, yet remains histrionic. Consistent, Vasilevich pushes these time-and-earth-bound characters to his front plane. The promise of modem architecture with its light at the end of the tunnel, persuades us, that that's where the viewer will triumph. Alas, the time tunnel is trumped by tbe blue Arcadian sky, an atmosphere free of time.

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America II, 1997, 32"x48", oil all canvas

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America II (p.21) is rather surrealistic, with its phallic column of rock, an NYC skyline atop it, and a gigantic woman among the buildings' laying supine. Hair distressed, face forlorn, and inner thighs girding another phallic skyscraper, the entire scale being far too small for her relative giganticness. Nonetheless, this female giant is ruled (by man and the city?). It's a rather sure shot that the artist is foregrounding society, culture, crime, sex, and especially wealth as ephemeral. But there is more to be right-sized.

The mesa atop the giant stone phallus supports NYC, with a special ambience of Wall Street. Finance symbolizes the temptations and pleasures of human life. The female, so strangely spread among the scrapers, recalls Surrealism's combinations of subject matter, but also its renegade disapproval of bourgeois society. The author of this picture is anti-material, anti-establishmentnor does he make a god of sex or beauty. And once again, V asilev i ch limns for us a ravishing background, in which one might become lost in speculation as to what universal Truth is/will be.

Mass Movement, 2011, 45"x60'~ oil on canvas

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Now, while Mewen to Mori (p.24) takes as its symbol a deliquescing, translucent globe to allude to the eventual passing of the Earth, the last two works in this exhibition need special attention. Mass Movement (p.22) and All Countries United (p.23) have plot twists that echo the reverse plot of Opposition (p.lS). In both works, one chromatic and the other tonal, a group of shirtless, fit men come together to move a gigantic form - one a giant skull; the other a huge boulder taller than they. This time, there is a spirit of final victory: in both pictures, the brilliantly drawn figures congregate to push the object in question directly into the ether.

Here, the presence of the ultimate eternal seems close by, exciting, directly available to these laborers. Instead of guarding the skull to commemorate the passing of human life, the theme of All Countries United (p.23) seems to be that even Death is ephemeral, especially in the context of humankind and Earth's having vanished. What is essential, ultimate Truth, neither is born, nor dies. Back to St. Francis, it is only by death that "eternal life" is achieved.

In On Foreign Land (p.19), likewise a supine figure is closer to the ether than in other works. Sure enough, he occupies the middle ground in this lush work, that may remind us of Sargent's "Dead Matador." In moving the great boulder, the figures dispatch it to the eternal, as if to say even gravity, itself, so long a presumed given of the cosmos, may one day be no more. Are even the essentials of cosmology, unessential to the cosmic ultimate Truth? This writer knows not, but he lauds Vasilevich for posing such essentisl questions to the soul of man.

Michael Miller, art historian

All Countries United, 2011, 80"x114", mixed media 01] linea

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Memento Mori, 2011, 80"x86'~ mexid media, linen

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Kentsux end Graces, sketch, J 2"x18", pencil, paper

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America I, sketcb, 9"x12", pencil, paper

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Artur Vasilevich

1964 Born in Mosty, Belarus

1982 BFA in Painting, Art School for Gifted Children, Minsk, Belarus

1990 MFA in Painting and Monumental Art, Belarusian State Art Academy, Minsk, Belarus

1994 PhD in Painting and Monumental Art State Art Academy, Minsk, Belarus Graduate Advisor .~ Michael Savitski

Currently resides in Cleveland, OH

Public Commissions

2008 Stained glass windows, "Motber of God of Zyrovicy Church", Strongsville, OR

2007 Composition of painted sculptures, 2020 Center Rd, Cleveland, OR

2007 Mural on canvas, Meditation Evening, Carmel, CA

2006 Mural on ceiling (128 sq. ft), Westlake, OR

2005 Mural on wall, Underwater World (230 sq. ft), Columbus, OB

2004 Mural on ceiling, Tbe Battle of Good vs. Evil (450 sq. ft), Bratenahl, OH

2000 Stained glass windows (45 sq.ft), "Mother of God of Zyrovicy Church", Strongsville, OR

1997 Altar paintings (460 sq. ft), gold leaf, oil, "Our Lady ofMt. Carmel Church" Wyandotte, MI

1997 Altar painting Two Angels (490 sq. ft), acrylic, canvas on panel, "Motber of God", Greek Orthodox Church, Detroit, MI

1995 Restoration of XVI-XIX century churches in Germany by invitation of German-Polish restoration company EXIM.

1994 Stained-glass windows (320 sq. ft), National State Library, Minsk, Belarus

1990 Fresco Hymn of Beauty (790 sq. ft), City Health Center of Minsk, Belarus

1989 Lime stone carving Fauna and Flora (390 sq. ft), Children Recreation Center commissioned by Lithuanian Ministry of Health, Druskeninkaj, Lithuania

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Mishin Fine Arts

445A Sutter St. San Francisco, CA 94108 I 415-39] -6100 I www.rnishingallery.com

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