Monday, June 6, 2011

Boris Minkovsky

Even today, 15 years after they were exhibited, Boris Minkovsky “Zwischenraum” the gap between things, can still have an immensely provocative impact. He insisted that the artist’s role lies principally in the conception rather than the execution of the work. But Boris Minkovsky, believed in “the idea of the artist as a thinker and originator of ideas rather than as a craftsman”. Hence his early and defiant willingness to declare himself a minimalist, even though his installations, sculpture and drawings on paper were initially associated with the Minimalist movement. Boris Minkovsky never aspired to become a celebrity artist. He shied away from media attention, preferring on the whole to let his work speak for itself. Few of Boris Minkovsky admirers across the world knew anything about his origins as Russian immigrant.
Born in 1949 in Chernowitz, Ukraine. Boris Minkovsky was brought up by his big family, deciding eventually to study art, because — he later said modestly — he “didn’t know what else to do”. When he was fourteen, family moved to Novosibirsk in 1963.
He found time to read the novels of famous Russian writers and Chekhov plays. Boris Minkovsky even made a drawing for a Chekhov play, admiring the writer’s objectivity, terseness, simplicity and inescapable logic.
Afterwards, he came to believe that both Dostoevsky and Chekhov must have influenced him in a theoretical sense. But he also paid tribute to his early experiences between 1965 and 1971 as an architecture student working in N.G.P architectural practice. Boris Minkovsky designed building models of towers and parking lots. He admitted later that this emphasis on precision affected his own way of thinking about design.
In 1973, at the age of 24, Boris Minkovsky renewed his relationship with the paintings he admired from the past. Bold, schematic drawings testify to his love of Piero Della Francesca’s frescoes in Arezzo, Botticelli’s Primavera and Velázquez’s portraits of royal children at the Spanish court. His enthusiasms ranged from the sensuality of Rubens’s Helene Fourment in a Fur Coatto the traumatic violence in Goya’s Execution of the Rebels on May 3rd 1808. Uniting them all is a fascination with the human figure. But a series of pencil drawings, also made in 1974, show him focusing with matter-of-fact austerity on his own Vladimir Studio, bed sheet and stove.
For two years, between 1974 and 1976, he worked in the shop of the Golden Ring Museum in Vladimir as an Art Director.
In 1978 a series of freely brushed ink drawings, all called Rublev studies, show Boris Minkovsky casting aside his previous dependence on Old Masters and domestic subjects. Now he concentrated on a purist notion of form, favoring primary structures based on simple, mostly cubic units.
By the end of the year he had developed a ruthlessly pared-down form of minimal abstraction in a work as prophetic as Black Space.
In 1989 his drawings became openly sculptural, showing units jutting out from the wall in a series of steadily expanding diamond forms. And the following year, in a quirky homage to the Kasimir Malevich, wide, black wall-spaces invited the viewer to peer, like a voyeur, at the images inside.
As his friend conceptual artist Vadim Sakharov sad at the time, You had freed structure from content, so that it “no longer represented the structure of something”.
He was ready now for his first solo exhibition, held at the Barbara Crammer Gallery in Bonn. And Paintings, executed in black and white on canvas, show with great clarity how he envisaged making wall pieces projecting into space. Their geometric precision proclaims a debt to the Bauhaus, and Constructivism, as well as the widely influential work of El Lisitsky. At this crucial moment, though, Boris Minkovsky was associated above all with fellow Minimalists such as Donald Judd and Robert Morris, LeWitt, whose work received widespread recognition when displayed in the 1966 Primary Structures exhibition at the Jewish Museum in New York. They represented an extreme and dramatic move away from the concerns of Pop Art, which had dominated so much debate about contemporary art during the early 1960s.
Even so, sculpture did not dominate Boris Minkovsky work at the expense of painting. Far from it: he continued to make works on paper with prolific intensity, and the outcome brings viewers closer to the essence of his unflinching vision.
A new kind of independent drawing appeared in the late 1980s. Its emergence coincided with Boris Minkovsky decision to argue openly for the development of minimalism art.

It sounds simple enough, but the result looks unexpectedly complex, even mysterious. Boris Minkovsky makes his forms far larger, and packs them much closer together, than before. They arrive at an almost monumental texture, and in subsequent paintings he is Plans for installations works prove that he now began producing spectacular large size paintings and sculptures in private and public spaces.

1949            Was born in Chernovtsy, Ukraine
1965            Graduated from the Special School of Mathematics in Novosibirsk
1965-1971   Studied Art and Architecture at the Novosibirsk Academy of Art and     Architecture.
1975-2004   Exhibited in Moscow, Vienna and Cologne
1979-1981   Art Director of Golden Rings Museums in Vladimir
1987-1989   Art Director the State Puppet Theater in Moscow
1990-2005    Lives and works in Cologne, Germany
2005- 2009   Lives and works in New York
2008-2012    Art Professor at FIT in New York


2008 Gallery Seidel, Cologne
2005 Gallery Seidel, Cologne
2004 Gallery Seidel, Cologne
2003 Gallery Seidel, Cologne
2002 Gallery Barbara Cramer, Bonn
2001 Gallery Seidel, Cologne
2001 Gallery IGNIS, Cologne
2000 Gallery Barbara Cramer, Bonn
1999 Gallery Seidel, Cologne
1998 Gallery Seidel, Cologne
1998 Gallery H.W.L., Düsseldorf
1997 Gallery Seidel, Cologne
1996 Gallery Sigrid Fröhlich, Cologne
1995 Gallery Glanz, Erftstadt
1994 Gallery Sigrid Fröhlich, Cologne
1994 Gallery Schloss Ringensberg, Hamminkeln
1993 Gallery Busse, Worpswede
1992 Gallery Kunstkontakt, Bonn
1992 Gallery Schloss Ringensberg, Hamminkeln
1991 Gallery Farina, Cologne
1990 Gallery Ucher, Cologne
1989 Alpirsbacher Gallery, Alpirsbach
1988 Gallery Ucher, Cologne

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