| "Detach 4, Past" by Yuri Leonov
“Ontological” is a two-man exhibition of artworks by young artists, Yuri Leonov and Jake Blake, that observes how they each individually examine the inexplicable state of their own being. The mixed-media paintings and drawings on view, which utilize a mixture of abstract and figurative forms, are explorations of their experiences via visualized quiet moments of private introspection.
Yuri Leonov examines his inner world via figurative and abstract mixed-media paintings. His canvases and papers on which he works are not merely the vessels that passively hold his images, but they each become, through his physical interactions with the surfaces, whole art objects themselves: surface, stretchers, staples and all. Together, his art objects comprise a visual journal, filled with physical artifacts of his past and present experiences.
In this series, Mr. Leonov explores memories of spaces and things from his childhood home in St. Petersburg Russia, that now seem turned around. These works explore why the once-familiar shadows on the walls of his old cave look so alien in his present mindset. About his use of materials to express these explorations, he has stated that the "juxtaposition of the layers [of medium] resembles an inner relationship between my conscious and material state."
Jake Blake‘s work explores the introversion of others, how it affects him and his own reflection that he sees in their behavior, as if they are ghosts influencing each other’s lives. His artwork explores his life as a haunting, delving quietly into the grotesque, coupling the supernatural with the weight of the visceral, bordering on the spiritual. He perceives that these gently macabre moments strengthen his connection to those around him, and the environment in which he resides. To describe his emotions when creating his work, Mr. Blake has stated, "Time freezes, for a split-second I am on some other plane of existence, and everything is still, melancholic and beautiful." Mr. Blake’s canvases of animal skins and furs strengthen the ideas his works explore by making them more visceral and sensual. Like Mr. Leonov’s work, Mr. Blake’s works are art objects rather than traditional paintings.
The creation of visual artwork can be a cathartic and self-explorative exercise. Delving into the unknowns of the personal symbologies of individual artists, the act of painting, sculpting or creating various forms of artworks frees automatic minds, as Hans Arp did with scraps of paper in his “Nach den Gesetz des Zufalls (According to the Laws of Chance)” back 100 years ago. What seems accidental becomes serendipitous, leads to better self-understanding. The works in Ontological illustrate one small percentage of the inner world artists explore to lead them to self-discovery.