Sergey Popov. Under the cover of Post-Modernism

To state that we live in the epoch of Post-Modernism means unconditionally acknowledging agreement with the often used maxims: the world of images surrounding us is a system of repetitions and reproductions, citations and allusions, the creation of an original in today's conditions is impossible. From this point of view the art of Naftali Rakuzin is an ideal example of Post-Modernist thinking: it is difficult to find a more favourable example of "style" than the redrawing of reproductions, copying of reproductions. However, thinking thus, one risks instantly falling into a trap by placing Rakuzin somewhere close to the produce of Jeff Koons or Zigmar Polke, or, in the Russian tradition, close to the frantic "citation" of Sots-Art, smoothly transforming into respectably-ironic, built on instantly recognised topical games, Post-Modernism which has been fattened and considerably lowered to the consumer. Let's look at it more deeply: Rakuzin does not play these games. Here the differences are important —-as they arc for the aesthetics of recent decades, the observation of hues, nuances, the distinction of qualities, in a word — subtleties. The art of Rakuzin being built on the pleasure of contemplation, from the very process of watching, in this respect undoubtedly brings pleasure to the attentive viewer, appreciator, in general — to the beholder. This pleasure, of course, is similar to what a person feels when looking through an album with perfectly printed reproductions of famous works of art — hut much, much greater! It communes one with the whole history of art, but remains in strict, sometimes even ascetic limits given by the strategies of contemporary art. Its subtlety is based not on the fact that we sense differences in the sequence of repeating and in general monotonous subjects — books on the shelf, a book opened on a table, — but on the fact that through the prism of one-single (this is fundamental!) subject — look — we have the possibility of valuing the criteria of the plastic qualities, the facets of artistic mastery, managed, handled by the artist. Moreover: it's clear that the image of the book is not simply a subject chosen by some creative whim or personal predilection, but multidimensional, a highly motivated and longed for metaphor — the metaphor of Art itself, allowing one — and that's the paradox! — in today's world, totally saturated by reproduction culture, to enjoy the breathing of the genuine.

This metaphor, precisely in modern conditions — the end of the XX — the beginning of the XXI century, is necessary for our understanding. One must not forget that we are in the conditions of the rapid development of

technical media, and today it is difficult even to imagine which revolution in the world of art, on the brink of which we now find ourselves, will be the result of the ability to create three dimensional reproductions. Rakuzin's experience, here, is invaluable. He turns our attention to the ancient understanding of Art as tekhne, as a copy, as a sample-drawing, inherited and repeated from generation to generation.

It is proof of the necessity of a school, an academy — again, in their original antique meaning (by the way, leaders of the Russian Avant-garde in the early years, and one of the key figures of "the other art" Vladimir Weisberg throughout their lives based their art on the assiduous reproduction of scholarly samples). Finally, Rakuzin's art reminds one of the model of eternal recurrence which Art so expressively illustrates — and in this simplest model, irrevocable by no innovations, the metaphysical aspect of the artist's activity peers through and the artist's highest function is each time to recreate the world anew, using known templates, in order to transform it mysteriously and uniquely.


Sergey Popov