exhibition
Maria Garkavenko. Praxis
15 April 2011 — 16 May 2011
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Upon reflection, we conceive of “practice” as a meaningful human activity that is geared toward a particular purpose. The subjects of Maria Garkavenko's work from the "Praxis" series appear to us as more than an arcane form of practice: An asexual anthropomorphic creature with a gentle smile on its face lifts up its head from its shoulders and basks in the warmth of flames, catching a reflection of the star-filled heavens in a bowl of milk

Let us be clear: The real subject of this discussion about practice is neither more nor less than the human soul; and its purpose is spiritual ascent. According to the artist, progress is possible only along this path. Maria Garkavenko rejects a theoretical understanding of religious and esoteric texts; at first glance, she practices a seemingly simple kind of painting. The charm and originality of her artistic world lies in this very simplicity. In this way, Garkavenko's creativity is akin to ancient spiritual practices.

How does one explain, for example, the fact that an artist using such a simple set of techniques prefers to fuss with oil and canvas rather than a drawing board? What is clearly most important here is the creative process; and practice, which restores the role of learning to art. The "Praxis" Series, based entirely on the artist's personal and intuitive experience, is the fruit of this protracted work. A close examination of Garkavenko's works reveals the shades of local color found within, and her seemingly airtight inner world thus becomes permeable and accessible to the spectator. And now would be the time to talk about the magic power of art, and to recall the greatest shaman of them all, Joseph Beuys, who proclaimed the artist in each of us. This romantic idea is close to those of Maria Garkavenko, who has made a practice of preferring the intuitive to the theoretical, and proclaimed painting as the expression of self- and worldly knowledge.

This process may be rather involved; and spectators may be called upon to exercise their considerable intellects in an effort to deconstruct their ideas into discreet parts and to offer up the leftovers on a sacrificial dish. This ritual is available not only to high priests of art. According to the Garkavenko, man has changed little in essence since the socio-magical practices of ancient peoples; which means that throughout the course of their lives, humans repeatedly collect themselves piecemeal and acquire specific experiences. The evidence of this may be found in the wise semi-smile of Garkavenko's persona. The "Praxis" Series is a rich depository for psychoanalysis, but it is even more interesting to approach these works via the artist herself — that is, intuitively, through the magic inherent in every act of human creation. Maria Garkavenko, a painter who rejected drawing board and camera in favor of a universal artistic language, through which the deeply personal becomes universal, allows spectators to feel at one with the artist and to stand on the same branch of the world tree, close enough for the hair on their heads to mingle and intertwine. This feeling of involvement in a uniquely meaningful and organic process — so rare an experience for people in the 21st Century — is one of the main goals of Maria Garkavenko — Practitioner.