I found the black and white paintings of St. Petersburg-based artist Vitaly Pushnitsky, currently up at Deak Erika Gallery in Budapest, too lovely not to share. They manage to be impressionistic without the blurry Gerard Richter newspaper feel that is so common. The tondo format suggests a religious or classical aspect, but the subject matter is the street, trash, or mechanical objects. This traditional treatment gives importance to contemporary scenes we don’t consider beautiful on a daily basis.
The small collages literally cut up renaissance frescoes and sculptures, reworking traditional art historical treatments into a contemporary point of view. The idea of cutting historical images into three-dimensional objects is familiar from the past few years of New York art fairs, but it is effective. Here this Baroque church interior seems to have a swastika cut out of it. Certainly a loaded combination of imagery.
More than anything I love how he paints, and I can certainly share his fascination with art history. I read this commentary on his work that I think summarizes my feelings as well:
“Pushnitsky works in a wide range of genres, from oil painting to video art. His style often blends contemporary and classical imagery: chubby-cheeked cherubim appear near capsized automobiles, bulldozers dismantle Romanesque ruins and sculptures emerge out of styrofoam packaging. It’s been interpreted as postmodern – and as just plain kitsch. But the artist’s technical skill is undeniable, especially in painting.”