5 February | 14 May 2022
“It’s a very close and difficult thing to know why
some paint comes across directly onto the nervous system
and other paint tells you the story in a long diatribe through the brain.”
(Francis Bacon, excerpt from an interview with David Sylvester
for the Sunday Time Magazine, 14 July1963)
With a soft, stuffed belly and a spine full of metal needles, pin cushions are a good example of dichotomy. As a household item often associated with the labour of mothers and grandmothers, its inherent deceiving tenderness is a quality hardly matched by any other object explored during childhood.
Being a child and carried off by instinct and eagerness, it is very common that when the opportunity comes to seize the pin cushion and squeeze it in with the fingers, it becomes a moment of instant regret: long-lost needles quickly emerge through the soft fabric to poke the skin with their sharp tooth. Not deep enough to cause terrible pain all at once, but surely prickly enough to associate this distressing sensation to the glory of feeling the stuffing fold under the slow pressure.
This sort of pleasurable contradiction is the distinguishing quality that makes Vladimir’s paintings so deeply interesting and alluring. The elemental shapes that are the subjects of his creations drift organically within the canvas, resembling the array that metal needles take when arranging themselves in an orderly manner along the lines of a magnetic field. They are dictated by the nature of the creator to follow a specific form and structure.
The hues of the palette that Vladimir employs and the silent charming ache that the paintings emanate, may also remind of the specific taste of work of Francis Bacon. The skilful ability to turn pinks, magentas and yellows into screaming colours, going directly opposite their daily connotations, by flinging them against a dark and ominous background is something worthy of remark. So is the talent of conveying to the viewer what Bacon used to call a direct expression of the nervous system and everything that affected it, both physically and emotionally, a “deeply ordered chaos” that is crucial to every and each artwork.
In the same way, Vladimir’s figures generate a very unique microcosm around them, drawing the viewer in, right at the centre of their colourful and unyielding thorny nest. The emotional trance that the paintings evoke is to be experienced wholly and without restraint: that is their ultimate purpose, to deliver the sharpest of feelings right into the softest spot of the mind.