Simchowitz gallery is pleased to present Myroslava, the first solo show of Ukrainian artist Andrey Samarin. The exhibition opens on Wednesday, October 11th at our DTLA gallery (725 E Washington Blvd, Los Angeles 90021). The exhibition continues through November 4.
Historically speaking, whenever there has been sweeping social, technological or ideological changes in the world, there has often been a profound shift within the arts. The effect of the printing press, for example, ultimately inspired the use of perspective, just as the spread of cameras ultimately led to the birth of abstraction. Now, today, with the birth of A.I., we are beginning to see a stronger embrace of all that is essentially human, with artworks that translate human foibles or human qualities more clearly—such as the handmade and the gestural.
With that in mind, Samarin’s practice couldn’t be more appropriate. It thrives on immediacy, rawness and spontaneity. It’s about the directness of his hand moving across the surface of the canvas; it’s about mark-making that can never be repeated twice. He claims that he doesn’t work from sketches, because he wants each gesture to be, as he says, as “radically right as possible”. If not, the work might be deemed a failure and he’ll start over.
Within that uncertain and beguiling space, is where Samarin’s art flourishes. Working with grease pencil, acrylic and oil sticks, he tends to work fast. While he certainly works using his intuition, there’s also an intense negotiation at play, a negotiation between the negative space of the canvas and the commanding nature of his gestural marks; between the interiority of his thoughts and feelings, and the clear-sightedness of his over-all vision.
Samarin chose the title Myroslava for the exhibition as a reference to the given names of his mother and grandmother, as well as the name’s etymology, which combines two Ukrainian words, Myr for “peace” and Slava for “glory.” It features work from the last three years of his practice and includes paintings and drawings from his studio in Kyiv before the war, as well as more recent work from his new studio in Paris. As the title suggests, the war on his homeland is a constant touchstone for him, yet like his compatriot Lera Derkach, whose exhibition Lettre à mon poète can be seen in an adjacent gallery, he actively resists being literal in his artworks. Occasionally, only his titles—which often employ wordplay or alliteration—offer hints to their meaning. Red Square (2023) for instance, made in his Paris studio, came about serendipitously. After mixing a unique shade of red acrylic and applying it to the canvas, he was so taken by its violence and negativity that it seemed fitting to name it after Moscow’s largest square and the home of the Kremlin.
Other paintings capture Samarin’s sense of humor and love for family. The title for the piece Nudotik Schweg (2023) for example, is a Ukrainian word for “boring.” According to Samarin, it was composed quickly and remains one of his favorites. (In other words, the process was anything but boring.) Yet he also likes the fact that his grandmother used to call his grandfather “Nudotik” as a taunt, and he always wanted to memorialize it in a title.
Born in Kyiv, Ukraine in 2000 and now based in Paris, Andrey Samarin has exhibited mostly in his homeland. His most recent solo exhibitions include, Entered Without a Key (2022), Korsak Museum of Contemporary Art, Lutsk. He has also been included in a number of group exhibitions including, Ready Steady Collect (2022), Avangarden Gallery, Kyiv; Observation (2020), White World Gallery, Kyiv; Objects Art Prize (2020), Art Center “Chocolate house”, Kyiv; Intro Art-Performance (2020), Kurenivka Palace of Culture, Kyiv.