July 7, 2020
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The essence of Ginzburg's recent body of paintings lies in the interaction of color. Our perception of color, optics and viewing techniques, as well as the movement of color in space have been at the center of many important dialogues by philosophers, artists, scientists and thinkers since the beginning of the Modern era.
Ginzburg explores these relationships, seeking to produce new viewing experiences through painting. In 2016, as Ginzburg embarked on the Gushul residency at the Southern Alberta Art Gallery (Canada), he became interested in the theories of a pioneering figure, Mikhail Matyushin (b.1861, Leningrad). A Russian painter and leading member of the avant-garde, Matyushin conducted various experiments on how we perceive color and space. He had pioneered a theory of "expanded viewing", where he argued that our ability to see and appraise our spatial surroundings could be heightened under the influence of space, light, color, and form.
Left: Mikhail Matyushin, Michael Ender. Chart of colored figure and ground progression in time with one eye closed. c.1930s. Paper, cardboard, gouache and collage. Collection of the State Museum of History, St. Petersburg. Image courtesy Anton Ginzburg. © State Museum of History, St. Petersburg. Right: Installation view, Anton Ginzburg: Construction Proxy. Barbara Davis Gallery, Houston. January 5-February 17, 2018. Image courtesy Barbara Davis Gallery, Houston. Photo: Peter Molick.
Taking his cue from Matyushin's color and spatial studies, Ginzburg developed the ROMB 4A body of works. Using the geometry of the diamond shaped wood panels, Ginzburg developed dynamic abstract compositions. Planes of color overlap, revealing new figure-ground relationships within each work. Ginzburg developed the works with pigments and paints prepared in his studio, whilst studying the physical and spatial properties of colors and their combinations.
ROMB 4A is concerned with perceptions of space and color, and their effects on visual consciousness.
The act of viewing, and how we see color, becomes the subject of Ginzburg’s second series, VIEW. Ginzburg developed the abstract compositions of this series by basing them on diagrams that represent the binocular field of human vision. Drawing on the geometry established in these diagrams, planes of color overlap and intersect in each of these paintings. Building on Ginzburg's color studies and spatial exercises, VIEW demonstrates the very act of viewing itself through the material practice of painting, making the viewer aware of his or her own point of perception.
“My research focused on the exploration of color, its interaction with the spatial environment, and the incorporation of these principles into the objects of observation.”
— Anton Ginzburg, in conversation with Meghan Forbes.
Read the full conversation on MOUSSE Magazine
In larger-scale works, Ginzburg drew on the effects of the movement of color in space, creating works where color fields reference its prismatic effects.
"This is not an objective landscape, however. It is more like a metaphysical landscape, or a landscape of the mind... It is tempting to look for symbolism in the shapes, patterns and forms. But there is also something democratic happening in the liminal spaces where the colors and lines meet: we are looking at borders, and admiring how our perception of things changes when lines are crossed." — Phillip Barcio, Anton Ginzburg’s Interpretations of Eastern Europe's Modernist-Formal Vocabulary
Read the full review on IdeelArt
In 2019, Ginzburg began integrating the forms that he had developed into new series of works, entitled 3i_SUN_STARE and HAY STACKS. These forms begin to serve as recurring motifs within his compositions, creating an established visual vocabulary throughout the respective series. The paintings visually allude not just spatial dynamics, but also to the structure of non-linear narratives.
"The abstract paintings are called HAY STACKS. Language gives them meaning, even if to mislead... The artist is practiced in the vocabularies of 20th century modernism and his works allude to their turns of phrases, without quoting directly. He breaks apart the traditional sentence structures of modernism, incorporating them into new patterns and rhythms, to participate fluently in contemporary art dialogues."
— Katya Tylevich, in Points of Entry, essay for the catalog of the two-person exhibition Anton Ginzburg and Dasha Shishkin: Partial Eclipse at Fridman Gallery, NY (October 20 - November 20, 2019)
In the series 3i-SUN_STARE, Ginzburg incorporates the geometric shape of the earlier VIEW series in the works. Yet, instead of taking the viewer's individual angle of vision as the subject of the painting, 3i-SUN_STARE presents the viewer with a broader "meta-perspective", where the structure and form of the work is derived by turning VIEW into figures within the ground of the painting. In speaking about the series, Ginzburg references the camera technique of "zooming out", where the lens reveals a wider narrative within a singular frame. In the same way, 3i-SUN_STARE uses the form of VIEW almost as a kind of cinematic syntax to construct a different "scene" altogether.
Bringing to mind another present-day method of examination, Landscape Turn_1A (2019) references the format of the iPhone's landscape mode. Fighting against easy viewing, Ginzburg developed this singular work by applying the visual vocabulary that he developed to our common experience of viewing graphics on a digital screen, confusing the abstract with the literal.
Over the course of these bodies of paintings, Ginzburg uses color-spatial relationships to analyze different modes of viewing, and the possible relationships that can be established between the viewer and the viewed — in this case, the material object of the painting. Collectively, the four series are a playful, vibrant, and dynamic exploration into the foundational forces that shape our visually-charged world today, and the techniques that we use to see and interpret what we see.
“The problem of form is definitely crucial…However, unlike Modernists, I am not searching for some pure, ideal form. Form in my works is always dynamic. It develops through interaction with the surrounding context, with history, with material properties of things, and with whatever else might shape it. I see my work as analytical system for observing the process of the development of form as it undergoes semantic, material, and historical transformations. ” — Anton Ginzburg
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