The Russian painter Andrey Remnev (Yakhroma, 1962) will present at his first Italian show, with the patronage of the Embassy of Russian Federation in Italy, the brand new series The Face of a Natural Force, a collection of 12 mesmerising and visionary oil paintings which will reflect on the relationship between Soul and Nature.
I recently had an opportunity to speak with Andrey Remnev. Undoubtedly inspired by the imagery and geometries of traditional Russian painting, Remnev invites us to master the emblematic visual language of Russian Icons, reinterpreted with a figurative style dense in symbolism in a contemporary key and under the profound influence of his passion for Italian Classical Art.
From the sacred Russian icon to the icons of our time. Your paintings seem to be inspired from Russian sacred art, from which you then delve into forming a precise and recognizable stylistic trait. Your works seem to be a fusion of sacred icons (which idealizes a certain type of themes such as domestic intimacy, wedding and funeral rite, religious environment and ceremonies) and a more profane symbolism. A profanation that, however, is graced by the presence of women. Can we say that this is precisely the cultural and ideological substratum of your art?
My motivation to create a painting is everyday life in the modern world. At the same time the painting techniques are taken from artists of the past. In the fusion of these two principles, my own recognizable style appears. It is the principle of classical tradition. For example, in the Middle Ages the books with samples were widely used, from which the artists took their composition scheme. They could improve and adapt those samples to their specific tasks. This is pretty much how I am working. Everything was invented long ago, you just need to find out how to use it.
The tribute to Piero Della Francesca fits into a discourse where the sacred and the profane find their perfect location. Thinking of this great Italian painter, the echoes of an imposing and rational painting, but also continually aimed at experimentation, seem to return to his paintings. What were the elements of Piero Della Francesca's paintings that caught your attention, and how did this interest translate in your way of making art?
Regarding Piero della Francesca I can say that his work with form is what interests me most. This painter had a great artistic taste. He understood that art is a conditional thing and drew up his compositional system around this. I use plastic art techniques that I notice in his paintings. Piero della Francesca’s simplified everything and thereby achieved greater expressiveness. In his paintings everything is divided into three tones. It provides an opportunity to work with these colors which is further potential for the artist. This technique is determined by my temperament. I can relate to the principle intrinsic to Japanese art: “paintings for leisurely gazing.”
The combination of egg tempera and oils is one of the techniques that date back to the 13th and 14th-century. It is during these periods that the experiments in the pictorial field were amplified, outlining a stylistic and emotional investigation. The more a technique is effective, the more it is able to transmit emotions. Is this what led you to experiment with your painting process?
Creating such a painting requires a certain technique. Every phase is performed fast enough with one touch. At the same time the sequenсing and the number of phases can be large; therefore, work is stretched in time. The painting for the viewer is revealed gradually. This technique is certainly not popular at the moment but the real painting does not unfold immediately, yet with the passage of time. Tradition of painting perception stands against the modern principle of contact with the work of art. Nowadays everything goes in accordance with an instant effect, so that it is necessary to make an effort to stop and try to delve into.
The light of your paintings stems from the canvas and raises it to the maximum degree of sublimation. One cannot speak of light and gold and not think of the allegories and symbology of Klimt's works. Was he also a source of inspiration for many of your paintings?
Gustav Klimt is an artist of the second line, although without a doubt he is a brilliant painter. His creation is based on comprehension of the oriental art discoveries, popular in his time. In turn, my sight is set on the original source - Chinese and Japanese art, not Klimt's works. The charm of gold is the principle which the usage of this precious metal in oriental art was based on. Klimt certainly followed the same principles. In icon painting gold appears as light, so I try to use gold not for the sake of gold itself but with the meaning.
The Woman is a recurring subject in your paintings. She is a strong figure, evangelical, adult and “above of everything". We could say that, even in this case, the sacred and the profane merge together. It is a contemporary Woman, far from the stereotypes transmitted by the media, but probably very close to the common feelings of ordinary women. Is this the message you want to convey? And where does your research on the female figure stems and originates from?
Women in paintings are characters of ideal nature. This is my idea of perfection. In each painting, one side of this perfection reveals itself, one painting does not claim to open up to its full meaning. The images of women are timeless, they are universal. The success of the artist is to come up with a timeless image that will be always relevant, and not only at the present time.