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Nikolai Sazhin

17 March - 18 April 2004
The Marble Palace

The exhibition shows the oeuvre of the artist Nikolai Sazhin, who was one of the brightest figures of St Petersburg avant-garde. The exposition includes the pictures on the themes, on which the artist worked in the early 1990s, but which had appeared in his creative diapason already in the 1970s. The branch of art, to which Nikolai Sazhin belongs, can be labeled turn-of the-millennia Neo Decadence, distinguished by witchcraft and magic addressed constant themes and erasing the borderlines of genres and standards. Nikolai Sazhin entered the art life of Leningrad/St Peters-burg with his original and perfectly performed "folklore-pagan" works. Sazhin illustrated books in the 1970s and 1980s, creating independent compositions in graphic art and painting, conceptually enclosing them inside the form of a circle. In painting, the artist preferred a complex texture, with deep and dark tones. In graphic art, he could be more "graphic", i.e. smooth and concise. All works, however, in-corporate a far from trivial choice of subjects and images, employing parad-oxical clashes. One of the most important features of the artist's style is his vivid and sharp humor, undoubtedly rooting in the so-called folk risorial culture. An intellectual very much at home in the diversity of world culture, Sazhin places his own natural humor at the service of the tasks of art, changing it according to the rules of post-modern play. Sazhin invents matrix characters, like, e.g., rich with cultural associations, forms of southern pumpkins, and works on "Self-Anatomy" and "Yoriky" series, studies South American frogs, that later inhabit his literary works. Nikolai Sazhin's acquaintance as a student with Evdokia Glebova, Pavel Filonov's sister, was extremely important in this sense. Evdokia carefully stored and treasured her brother's collection of re-markable paintings and drawings after his death, later transferring them to the Russian Museum. Sazhin's art is partially rooted in the philosophy of art of Filonov. All his life the artist thinks of everlasting matter, inescapable events, something that awaits him, something he should be ready for - and, may be not, - says the artist. Passion for art of a person obsessed by creative impulse, captivated by the process of investigation and, finally, by the beauty of a simple patch of colour - this is a complex and unique world of an artist, who tries to solve the problems of "the human, much too human" and ancient cosmogonical issues, "recalling", "guessing" and "drawing conclusions" and, by the higher standards, driven by the idea of integrity. A catalogue for the exhibition has been published.