The Specific Characteristics of The Odessa Group

There is a strong folkloric tendency in Odessa art and an awareness of the Black Sea's ancient cultures. One ritual characteristic is the ubiquitous female form. Totemistic 'stone women' are plentiful on the steppes of the Ukraine and in the museums of Odessa and contemporary Ukranian art reflects this. The woman is invoked to protect even the modern artist. She is the original source of life whether mother or mother-earth, both stone goddess and contemporary icon. The woman has become the symbol of a primeval deity, invoked to protect the work and lending it a spiritual (pre-Christian) intensity. She can be an angel, lover, mother-earth or goddess but always a woman.

Characteristically, Odessa art is non-literary and rejects narrative implication. These artists strive for the purity of the image, with an emphasis on decorativeness and on a specifically painterly professionalism. Formal experiment often leads to metaphysical flight and aesthetic rebellion is confined within the frame of the painting without reference to any social theories. There is an implicitly optimistic psyche motivating the creative energy of the artists. It is a psyche in which there is no room for fatalistic notions.

Whether in exile in Munich, New York or Washington, in internal exile in Moscow, or living in Odessa, these artists have remained true to their century-long traditions of formal pictorial experiment.

"Odessa School Of Art Today"
Exhibition of paintings, graphic works and sculpture
Odessa Art Museum
May 19 - June 7, 2004

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