Kozyrev's single-panel paintings organize this visual junkyard into sweeping compositions that suggest the giddy weightlessness of flight - of soaring, diving and swooping through the air without the burden of a plane or even a jetpack. Giving fleshy substance to the virtual world, the paintings by the Russia-born, Austin-based artist take viewers on flights of fancy filled with melancholic memories yet still optimistic about prospects.
This body of work stems from observations by the artist based on the driving experience. Using freeway systems as the investigative constant, thiese paintings and drawings attempt to recreate the pure structure of urban landscape. In recreation, the original experience is replaced with the image of “lost” landscape. The environment along the freeway structures is essentially lost for the driver in the fast movement of the vehicle, because the driver’s attention is always directed forward; the landscape disappears on ether side of the driver, and only fragmented elements of it imprint in the driver’s memory. Driving these roads and byways at speed reduces the visual experience from detail to generality and we never can reproduce the whole picture of the trip, only scattered elements as if they had been caught by a strobe light.
These pictures are not meant to be a representation of the urban landscape, they are landscapes: landscapes for the speeding driver or landscapes for gallery goers. Moreover, these images have the potential to become a part of the road “language,” they may serve as information signs for a specific point of interest or they may be entertainment pictures to break the dullness of commuting.
The formal resolutions of these pictures are influenced by the ideas developed by Russian Constructivists and later by Bauhaus scholars. Only minimal elements are chosen for my pictures in order to affect the viewer in a matter of seconds; these images must have only that amount of information, which is essential for the message Kozyrev hopes to deliver.
Art Critic Colin Garner writes of the work:
"At first glance, Dimitri Kozyrev's work is grounded in a combination of traditional landscape painting and the analytic cubism of early Modernism. However, on closer examination we discover that Kozyrev expresses a specifically California-based sense of time and space: clear-cut Euclidian geometries are subverted in favor of a more hyperbolic, 'autopian' topography, as if the world were viewed from a speeding automobile or airplane or through the splintered, kaleidoscopic fragments of shattered glass. In other words, Kozyrev employs a fluidly dynamic painterly vocabulary in order to deny the spectator the comforts of a sustaining visual ground. Occasionally, we focus on a specific detail but more often than not Kozyrev deterritorializes our perception, as our mind gets caught up in the overall experience of anticipating what is yet to come, grasping the immediate moment in our peripheral vision, or recalling what we have just witnessed in our virtual memory."
"Kozyrev attempts to express this middle ground between objective specificity and subjective incommensurability by representing the gaps in our attention rather than the concrete object or landscape per se. Thus details are sketched in - a line of trees, a rough horizon line, the receding lines of street lamps, a curved section of freeway - so that topography is reduced to a series of minimalistic signifiers. Instead of a picturesque or panoramic spectacle, we are made more aware of vast expanses of cool, billboard-like colors which "invade" the scene so that it is often difficult to discern the dividing line between nature and simulacrum, sky and earth, foreground and background, aerial view and ground-level perspective. This constantly shifting spatial dynamic undermines the cone-of-vision, single point perspective of the traditional landscape so that we are caught in a cubistic spatial limbo, unsure whether we are in virtual or actual space. The result is a collapse of linear or chronological time into overlapping shards of active memory, in which past, present and future collapse into pure becoming."
"Drawing upon the Cubo-futurist, Constructivist and Suprematist design principles of his native Russia as well as the utilitarian pragmatism of the German Bauhaus, Kozyrev juxtaposes these modernist tropes with a Vermeer-like Dutch interior or the depiction of a ruined bunker in Finland, exploding the images' contextual logic into a postmodern pastiche of historical culture. Every picture becomes grist for the painter's cubistic mill, acting as building blocks in a new constructivist aesthetic, in which anything can be juxtaposed against anything else, and in which genealogical history dies in order to be reborn as pure production, as pure painting."
Dimitri Kozyrev (born 1967, St. Petersburg, Russia) received his MFA from the University of California, Santa Barbara (CA), and has since had solo exhibitions in New York, Santa Fe, Los Angeles, and Chicago. His work has been featured at the Krasnoyarsk VIII Biennale, Museum of Contemporary Art (Russia), the Tuscon Museum of Art (AZ), Museum of Contemporary Art (AZ), Gulf Coast Museum of Art (FL), Santa Monica Museum of Art (CA), the Armory Show (NY), and Torrance Art Museum (CA). His work has been acquired by the Berkus Family Collection (CA), Wellington Collection (MA) and UCSB Art Museum (CA). He is also the recipient of the Abrams Prize (CA) and Art Omi Residency (NY). Kozyrev lives and works in Austin, TX.