On Friday, May 11th, the Gallery of Viktor Bronshtaina in Irkutsk premiered its newest temporary exhibit, showcasing the works of Sasha Roschin, an experimental artist and illustrator living in Saint Petersburg. While previously known around the world for his work as a designer and fashion illustrator, recently, Sasha embarked in a new experimental direction – one seeking to capture the energy and emotion humans experience in nature.
After travelling to a series of locations around the world, Roschin decided to pay a visit to the local Island of Olkhon on Lake Baikal, as the island is known for its spiritual, energetic, and natural character. His newest exhibit, titled, On Matter and Time, seeks to showcase his impression of the island, reflecting his personal experience with the region.
To kick off the premiere in Irkutsk, the local gallery invited Roschin himself to personally introduce and speak about his works, while also offering residents free entrance on the night of the premiere.
Interestingly, while inspired entirely by the Irkutsk region, upon entering the exhibit, viewers notice that nothing in Roschin’s paintings directly resembles the landscapes of Baikal. Rather, a series of large-scale, multi-colored, abstract canvases decorate the room, accompanied by zen-inducing, meditative music. With the intention of allowing viewers to connect with each work in their own way, Roschin’s pictures were left nameless and devoid of specific, recognizable figures.
The exhibit was visually divided into two branches by the drastic contrast in energy portrayed in each painting. Half of Roschin’s works were composed of natural hues, and were laid upon canvases with white backgrounds, giving rise to feelings of calmness and clarity. Yet on the other side of the exhibit, Roschin made use of highly saturated, bright tones, superimposed on black backgrounds. Immediately upon entering this side of the exhibit, viewers feel a new form of energy, stronger and more lively then its placid counterpart.
Such a “yin and yang” style of curation highlights the contrast of organic emotion and energy one finds in nature. According to Roschin, he considers his work a reflection of the spirit of Earth; upon entering the environment, he is impacted greatest by those phenomena which reflect different characters of energy, such as flowing rivers, fog, waterfalls, and storms.
While from a distance, Roschin’s works impress viewers with their colors, size and fluid designs, upon closer inspection, each painting is decorated by a series of textures, both rigid and smooth in quality, which add depth and further Roschin’s impact on viewers.
Interestingly, Roschin creates his paintings without the use of a brush; rather, he relies on liquid acrylic paints, polypropylene sheets, alcohol, and a blow dryer to create the main effects, which are often multi-layered and appear non-man made. Beginning with rough sketches, Roschin controls the form and combination of colors for his works. However, he does not interfere with the materials as they unfold on canvas. Rather, in the process of layering paints, a series of chemical reactions take place, creating a natural impression beyond the artist’s control. Sasha then directs the airflow of the blow-dryer, regulating the movements and textures of paint on his canvas.
Each painting is thus a result of both intention and accident – a culmination of artistic directions relying only upon the artist’s feelings and intuition. Such qualities align with the overall rhetoric of Roschin’s exhibit, as the bright, open, and relatively empty surroundings in the room allow visitors to engage with the exhibit without external distraction or influence.
When speaking of his new exhibit, Roschin thus encouraged visitors to approach each painting with an open mind, recognizing the feelings and emotions which naturally arise. A short, documentary style video also accompanied his paintings, projected on an empty wall within the exhibit. The media gives insight into Roschin’s artistic journey, as it reflects his inspiration, motivations and methods for creating abstract works. The video can be viewed with English subtitles at the end of this article.
The variety of colors, shapes, and energy portrayed in Rochin’s paintings presented each viewer the opportunity to form his own “impression,” and on a larger scale, this concept of “impression” served as the driving theme of Roschin’s exhibit. While for Sasha, nature serves as his primary inspiration, when speaking of his exhibit, he encouraged viewers to find their own inspirations in life – whether that be in nature, through art, via emotion, or something else.