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April 2, 2007 | by  | in Visual Arts |
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Mary Newton Gallery 150 Vivian Street
March 28-April 21

When I walked into the Mary Newton Gallery recently, I, at first, thought the display was rather average. But, upon a closer look, I began to see so many of the things that local artist Victor Berezovsky was communicating in his exhibtion Bobble.

He had lots of small, interestingly shaped drawings, done with black vivid marker on linen canvases. Some of the works were also painted on a grander scale, on the walls of the gallery space – to help give the images more visual and emotive impact.

I grabbed hold of Victor and asked him to point out what all of these images were about. He explained that these works play on the concept of hard-edged abstraction, with a blend of decorative and folky art. Considering his Russian heritage, there are a lot of cultural influences coming through – “I’m Russian, so there’s references to Russian art here – but I wouldn’t say that they’re exactly Russian works.”

Despite that disclaimer, there were definitely elements of various Russian artistic forms coming through – inverted figures and a number of halo images that reminded me of Russian Dolls. Berezovsky’s art merges several different forms and concepts, but he does like the viewer to come up with their own conclusions.

Victor told me that if people want to look for greater depth in his work, “I’m not going to tell you as a viewer, you’ve got to keep up [by] coming to a show…by allowing so many works in a show, there are answers, actually. If you go and have difficulty with this shape, there will be one over there that helps answer it.”

After he mentioned this, I did happen to look around the wall again, to see if there were any identifiable recurring themes that could help me put them all into context. I did find some clues which helped, but, in the short time we had, it was difficult to really thread something concrete together. This art exhibtion was indeed abstract, as opposed to concrete – Berezovsky likened the images to those subjective Roesch cards that psychiatrists often use.

I happened to overhear two people say that one of the larger images reminded them of a Nazi Swastika, crossed with the Imperial logo from Star Wars. They weren’t the only ones to notice such ominous undertones with some of the works, as Berezovsky was well aware.

“Yeah, yeah, that’s funny – but it actually isn’t, to tell you the truth. I mean, I’ve been doing heads for a long time but the sort of concated head has to do with the birth of my sister’s son. So I’ve been looking at him a lot and obviously children have very large heads, and obviously also Russian icons – they have very big heads – so it’s interesting that people say that. They are probably ominous looking – I’m aware of that – but they’re actually supposed to, also, be humane.”

Humane? He was right about those Roesch card references; I, too, felt it was rather sinister looking. I asked him to explain where the softness in the image was. “Well, my work – if I was sort of, to say, nut it down – it’s to do with fragility, containment and I want my work to be humane; it’s a big part of it so it references things that happen to me on a day to day level, still.

And that’s about it.” He went on to elaborate this by explaining that it was the meshing of very hard geometric forms (bottom of the image) with something soft (top of the image which represented the baby’s head), so a tension was created – which is where emotive impact comes from.

I really enjoyed these works because conceptually, underlying the playful shapes, there were deeper ideas – of seperation, security, expansion and containment. Berezovsky makes strong use of reductive language, which gives the works its openness and lightness of interpretation At the end of the day, Berezovsky likes to think of his art as whimsical and playful.

“Predominently, I want people to have fun, come to this show and just have some fun. Look at it, they’ll see their own references.”

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