Inside Eternity at Artrujillo

Pulse, March 23, 2005

The classical and elegant exhibit Inside Eternity challenges our temporal map. It is a library of timeless, floating dreams. The sculptor Natasha Dikarev and the painter Vladimir Dikarev tell us there is a beautiful place to live—for real—outside the stupid and evil cruelties of history, outside that which is petty, and outside the rat race, even as we inhabit our particular streets and calendar dates. The fatherdaughter team grounds us in our true home—the universality of mythology, philosophy, sacred text and the collective unconscious. They show us the touchstones of life that are found when all veneers are peeled away.

Natasha Dikarev’s sculptures hum with life. Many are columns of coarse clay and steel rods whose stability represent surprising engineering feats. Lying on the floor around the bases are broken pieces of different unglazed ceramic pots, arranged to look like a glued-on mosaic. They perhaps symbolize the broken bits of the world made bearable by composing them into an aesthetically pleasing form that simulates permanence. Ceramic faces of coarse clay and marvelously employed stains and glazes, many of them on the pillars, evoke ancient Babylonia, Iberia, Greece. One, “Yet another muse,” gazes through her glassy, turquoise, powerful eyes at some ecstatic vision she sees across the harbor, through whose waters we imagine she has just come, her upwardly spiraling hair twisted and glistening.

Other than the pillars, which are from Dikarev’s MFA show, Temple of Lost Connections, there are whimsical, delightful pieces, such as “Egg-O-Centrism of the Soul” and “Fishing for Answers,” which take a light look at ego and doubt.

The colors of Vladimir Dikarev’s paintings are alluring in their tranquil brightness. Their sensuality is arresting and ethereal. A white, luminous figure with her back to the viewer fills the canvas of “Awaiting,” a very large watercolor. One could get lost in the precise and extravagant details of spilled wine, overflowing candle wax and the shimmering tablecloth, as well as in the woman’s dilemma. A funny little ship is already well within view but she continues to wait. Perhaps it isn’t the right ship. Or perhaps she is locked into the habit of waiting.

In other paintings, recognizable, realistic images are configured strangely or placed in unexpected contexts, creating a humorous, and somewhat depressing, effect. “Philosopher Travelling in a Shell,” another large watercolor, is a reference to Socrates and the barrel he wore. A bearded face wearing sun goggles looks upward from the strange two-legged contraption in which he is riding. There is no visible means of locomotion in the desolate landscape of sand, water and candy-colored decorative arches.

Artrujillo, run by Alejandro Trujillo, is an exhibition space that is open not only to artists of all cultures, but, as Alejandro put it, to artists “from the most humble to the most advanced.” The artists of Inside Eternity are obviously advanced. They have studied art since their youth and dominate their craft as easily as most people walk and breathe. Art is a way of life for this close-knit Ukrainian family, which also includes a composer, a documentarian, a graphic designer and a writer.

In 1996, 10 years after the nuclear accident at Chernobyl, not far from their home, Natasha set off for the United States. She hoped to find a cleaner, safer environment for her daughter. She paved the way, or, as she said, “shoveled the ground,” for the rest of her family to come.

They share deep humanity, wisdom and beauty, which is a gift to our fledgling culture and should be noted.

The exhibit runs through April 17 at Artrujillo, 349 13th Ave. NE., Mpls. (east of University). 612-821- 9076. Gallery hours are Noon – 10 p.m.Tues-Sat, and 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Sun.

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