Alla Reshetnikova. Anamnesis Vitae

Alla Reshetnikova. Dreams. 2013. Oil on canvas, 80х100 cm
Alla Reshetnikova. Paris. 2013. Oil on canvas, 100х120 cm
Alla Reshetnikova. Improvisation. 2013. Oil on canvas, 80х100 cm
Alla Reshetnikova. Altogether. 2013. Oil on canvas,100х120 cm
6 February, 2014 to 1 March, 2014

Abstract Art appeared in the first decade of the 20th century and, in essence, was not only the search for new means of self-expression, but also the act of creating new worlds, the way of the direct realisation of the “Great Utopia”, about which Wassily Kandinsky spoke. In her famous essay “Grids”, Rosalind Krauss insists that “Neither Mondrian, nor Malevich discuss canvases, paints, pencils and other material forms. They talk about Existence, about Mind, or about Spirit”. In this sense, abstraction is “a man's world” in principle. Further Krauss writes that for male artists the only thing that is important is the “path to the Universal, and they are not interested in what’s going on down in the Concrete”. However, it is still worth taking into account the fact that the first abstract works were created in 1906 by the Swedish artist Hilma af Klint, five years before the appearance of Wassily Kandinsky’s first abstract watercolour, dated 1911. We know quite a lot of women who turned to Abstract Art throughout the 20th century, starting with Gabriele Münter, Sonia Delaunay, Olga Rozanova, Lee Krasner, and right up to Lydia Masterkova, a representative of the Lianozovsky School. The list is, of course, incomplete, but we see that in all cases “female abstraction” does not strive towards the Lofty and the Spiritual, but is about the earthly, that is, the emotional, and subtly treats the formal component of the work of art.


Alla Reshetnikova was educated in the stronghold of Realist Art, the Surikov Art Institute in Moscow, and then she moved to the United States. There she decided to try her hand at Abstract Art. But in American Abstract Expressionism she soon found “a lack of the positive; a certain aggression; the desire to completely subjugate the viewer”. And the most important thing she found was an unwillingness to express subtle emotions, trying to achieve a sophisticated colour harmony. Alla Reshetnikova’s abstract paintings are made in a complex, masterly and multilayered technique. First, a linear or grid structure is applied to the canvas in thick paint. The result is not those highly organised geometric structures that Rosalind Krauss talked about, but something reminding one of fabric seen under a microscope, alive and active. In the subsequent layers the paint becomes thinner, allowing the viewer to see the underlying textural layers of the painting. And, finally, in the last layer the technique, discovered by Pollock, is used – the paint as if runs on the surface of the painting, leaving expressive streaks.


As a result of her creative dialogue with representatives of American Abstract Expressionism, muscular and bold, the artist found herself in a very different tradition – European Lyrical Abstraction, (L’Abstraction lyrique) French Tachisme – art that is refined, exaggeratedly aesthetic and preoccupied exclusively with the subtle details of the construction of form and of the pictorial space.


A.A. Kovalev