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In the workshop of the Cheshire Cat

By Boris Bernstein

The shift towards graphics is an act of optical asceticism: the artist consciously restricts herself to a scant toolbox of expressive means. The medium is not important here: oil, gouache, and pastel can all be used monochromatically. But the restraint in means, in capable hands, allows for greater artistry. At the same time, on a monochromatic backdrop, brief appearances of color become especially meaningful.

It's easy to see how the Seemscapes are akin to rocks and water: some of them bear unmistakable marks of their lineage (##19, 20, 21, 22). But rocks quickly turn into free shapes, then further into ghostly outlines, rough surfaces devoid of a third dimension, thence into blobs and spots... As a result of these metamorphoses, something new arises: now the trace of a rock is to the realistic image of the rock as the Cheshire Cat's smile is to the Cat himself. At the same time, this trace becomes enmeshed in new visual interactions. Its relationship with outside reality has weakened, but it develops especially interesting and intriguing ties to other visual elements: a flat area with a thin contour contrasts with a wash simulating three-dimensionality; a spot with rigid edges contends with a neighboring wet, softly spreading blot; irregular shapes are overlaid with regular grids; some graphical conglomerations seduce the eye via an apparent similarity with organic forms, while others -- dashes, strokes, circles, dots, labyrinthine cobwebs of lines -- are self-sufficient and invite us to follow their own unraveling plots. The skill with which elements of this kind are organized into a dynamically equilibrated or a dramatically exciting whole makes almost any of these graphical works a self-contained artistic microcosm.