What do you dream about? Fame? Glory? Riches? Perhaps something more abstract, like freedom or new horizons, dominates your reveries. Or maybe their opposites control your nightmares.
All these forces fuel the creativity of Russian expatriate artist Victor Khromin. The Museum of Russian Art’s new exhibit of his work, “The Art of Victor Khromin,” displays the artist’s vision of the world from June 28, 2014 through October 25, 2014. These 27 works from the artist and TMORA’s permanent collections reveal “the unfolding narrative” that is the artist’s inner life.
The exhibit notes state that Khromin’s works “explore the boundary between painting and sculpture.” Found objects such balls, scissors, wheels, and horse harnesses “selected for latent evocativeness” from his early life are papered over “in a collage technique” and painted. This technique that his web site calls “Synergy” “give[s] birth to new images through color and light” “where “the sum of the whole system is greater than its parts.”
Khromin’s subject matter includes his fears and inspirations which motivate his work and which propelled him beyond the conceptual confines of Soviet realist art. Even as a small boy, Khromin dreamt of leaving the confines of his Russian-Finnish enclave in Leningrad, now St. Petersburg, for the unknown regions lying beyond the horizon or up in the sky. Images of birds and ladders surge out of the mire of paint and rise beyond the grasp of reality. Sometimes they float, sometimes they remain captive, but always they strive against the confines of material existence.
Such a technique combines Chagall-like dream images with abstract fields of paint. Viewed up close, each canvass seems little more than a nubby topography of disparate hues and unrelated shapes. When seen from across the room, blue birds soar into the sky and ladders reach for infinity. Khromin’s images emerge from the context of their base existence to achieve a deeper sense of exploration, meaning, and fulfillment. The pastel hues of his earlier works give way to the vibrant colors of his later paintings much as the their confined striving of the subject matter is replaced by more abstract, less tactile images of serenity as in “Reflections #1 and #2.”
The exhibit is not retrospective. It contains no works from Khromin’s formative years in Russia, only those created since he came to America. But that limitation is hardly a liability. Given “the broad spectrum of art” that TMORA has collected and exhibited over the years according to Director Bradford Shinkle IV, the Khromin exhibit fits right in by showing how the artist’s vision emerges out of the eclectic, complicated, and oftentimes conflicted processes that express the unknown forces that haunt everyone’s dreams.