NK Gallery and Nadya Kotova-Maesen are pleased to announce the first solo show of Alexei Kostroma in Belgium, curated by Dmitri Ozerkov. Kostroma is a Russian born artist who lives and works in Berlin.In the early 1990s Alexei Kostroma proclaims a new trend in contemporary art – organic, which can be traced to some highly original works of early-twentieth-century Russian Avant-Garde. His oeuvre is always rooted in research regarding the process of interaction between nature and man, and he strives to integrate the resulting knowledge into the social environment.

Dmitri Ozerkov has curated numerous exhibitions worldwide. The most prominent exhibitions are "Dmitri Pirogov:Dmitri Pirogov" for 54th Venice Biennale, "Celestial Mirror. Anish Kapoor ", "Wim Delvoye. D11", "USA Today: New American Art from the Saatchi Gallery" in Hermitage Museum St.-Petersburg.

Alexei Kostroma. Light

By Dimitri Ozerkov (Art Historian, PhD Philosophy)

Black, white and yellow are THE colors to which Alexei Kostroma often limits himself. ‘Simplify your life, that is what the bonhomous artist would probably say. Sure, art makes life less complicated and brings love to it. However, technically each painting is the result of very complicateD processes of putting different materials and forces together on canvas. Kostroma paints deep black, cracks yellow and attaches white feathers. The final result is often very much about an emotion to share rather than a construction to concentrate on. And it is because of light that he expresses in pure colors.

Color plays A central role in Kostroma’s artistic theory, elaborated in the late 1980s when the artist lived and worked in St. Petersburg. He used to look up by focusing his eyes at the full sun. At noon he would use to sit in a shiny place, his face up, and quickly drawing on paper the images reflected on his retina. His main aim was to paint the light before it arrived in our physical world. Light immediately becomes color here, afterwards it is influenced by air, clouds and secondary reflections. People are unable to reach the initial light nowadays, and the artist wantS to reestablish such a contact as it existed before in the history of humans. Kostroma’s methods are both artistic and scientific. During daytime he would look up trying to penetrate the air and reach the true radiance, during the white nights he would read treatises of astronomers and astrophysicists. It is to this kind of experience that the energy of colors in his painting goes down. In his system, warm white turns yellow, and black appears to be the result of A negative evolution of an insensible grey… Needless to say, the system finds its closest analogies in the experiments BY Johannes Itten, Paul Klee, and Vassili Kandinsky, which influenced the artist very much in the 1980s.

As an inquisitive scientist, Kostroma would concentrate on his own everyday experiences and write down the results in his diary: ‘Today I put together, better to say ‘fixed up’ the stages of development of color in oil pastel after a brief glance at the sun. Interesting results were obtained: ten images show the gradual development of color and tone, as reflected on my retina. Three hours of work were not in vain… It is interesting to note the constant undulating in tones during the change of colors. What happens, is the infinite development from A positive image into a negative one, while the whole environment around the disk which changes its color, changes as well. The development of each color has a fixed length of time…’ The results of this kind of tests will immediately become working examples for his paintings. During his Crimean experiments of THE 2000s, the climax of thIS practice, he was about to seriously damage his eyes.

In the late 1990s Kostroma discovered that each color contains so to say a number, and he divided the whole of his palette from 1 to 9. It took him time to find the exact color/number correspondences. It resulted in the famous series of his ‘Smokes’, ‘Butterflies’ and ‘Beetles’ of THE 2000s. The artist is not pretending to have become an art alchemist. His art is indeed full of eggs, numbers, feathers and magic colors, but his aim is to get hold of the processes of life. Kostroma adds new techniques and contexts to the old genre of painting and leads his admirers to concentrate on THE final impression rather than on the hidden working processes behind. At the very end his art encompasses the time of being born, growing up and flourishING, and it clearly manifests that it is the energy of light which makes the whole of all this possible. It is about the constant birth of new life. His statement is to get hold of the light while it is chipping the egg shell of our universe from outside in order to get born. When light is born, it is color.