Mind and feeling

   Vladimir Martynov received an architectural education, worked with graphic arts and painting, and then moved on to the art of new technologies. This kind of career curve is typical of our time, but is nonetheless dramatic inasmuch as it requires from the artist a near contradictory set of skills. In its essence "hands on" creativity is based on direct physical expression, while at the same time working with new media requires structural manipulation skills and intellectual combinatorics for pre-prepared forms.
   Martynov's "mind and feeling" are not only harmonized, but also appear as the natural stages in developing an image. His painting shows the influence of graphics; at least clearly shows this to be the source of both image expression and artistic idea development. Only after the idea has been nurtured, and received its own form, it becomes a kind of architecture - an installation. Today even architecture in the proper sense can no longer be called "music expressed in stone" as in previous times - it has become interwoven with design and other practices involved in creating the modern environment. Even the art of painting has lost its previous quality of lofty inwardness - it has become a combination of decorative and stylish objects, inlayed into the human environment. Therefore contemporary art attempting a global picture of the world or at least essential originality demands to become an environment, at least in the sense of a virtual, metaphorical project. Therefore we see the appearance of the installation genre. With Martynov, this terminology returns to its literal verbal meaning: installation, arrangement, assembly and construction. This return takes place naturally, maybe even independently of the intentions of the artist. In the result a special metaphysical architecture arises. Within this metaphysical architecture the graphic microcosm receives its real macro scale, receiving adequate monumentality and digital illusiveness. 
   Even the titles of Martynov's recent projects show his faithfulness to the idea of totality - sometimes in the form of an abstract sacredness (Icons, Totems, 2005), or in the form of the general lexicon (Lexicon, 2004), sometimes in the form of otherworldly, complex, multidimensional space (Gold, Labyrinth, 2005). Sometimes it might be only fantastical divided collage planes, making a successful attempt to substitute for the walls of exhibition halls. Then there are spatial structures transforming its whole volume, and finally dynamic forms, that combine the space and themselves onto video projection screens. 
   The first images of such "cosmic vastness" were put forward some time ago by Piet Mondrian and the Russian suprematists. Much later Vladimir Yankilevsky did something similar, only on the psycho-erotic horizon. Finally a similar world of forms and images has quite recently been given to us by literature and cinema and to an even greater extent by the culture of computer games with their material illusiveness and cyber-technicist spirit. In the latter case separate abstract forms have lost their almost religious symbolism, and have become the details of a fantastical "day to day life". The forms have become mysterious parts of a combined mechanism-organism. Out of the old avant-garde dream a virtual universe has been born that is familiar to any teenager. 
   For visual art this universe is still even at the present time virtually closed. Only the art of new media is starting to fathom its boundaries. But even in this area the "brave new world" appears as something closer to a Disney journey behind the looking glass. Vladimir Martynov's virtual cosmos brings with it a greater material quality. It takes on a more ancient and ritually significant appearance than our own world, while at the same time avoiding an archaic pathos, abiding in a tangible modernity. 


Vladimir Levashov


May 31, 2005