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Egor Ostrov

Egor Ostrov was born in Leningrad in 1970 in a family of artists. Through learning painting from his grandmother, an academic painter Lea Ostrova, reading books illustrated by his father Svetozar Ostrov, from his early childhood Egor was absorbing the aesthetics of perfectionism. After graduating from school, Egor developed a passion for science and enrolled in Leningrad Electrotechnical Institute and later, in the Academy of Arts. Meeting Timur Novikov in early 90-s and taking part in the New Academy of Fine Arts defined his way forward. Soon afterwards Egor Ostrov found his unique style. In 1992 he created his first paintings in the raster technique that later became his signature style. A 1994 landmark exhibition made Egor one of the most successful young Russian painters of that time.
Throughout the years, Egor collaborated with various famous galleries. His works are stored and being exhibited at largest international museums (Stedelijk Museum in Amsterdam, National Museum of Contemporary Art in Oslo, Sinebrychoff Art Museum in Helsinki, The State Russian Museum in St. Petersburg) and private collections. Ostrov lives and works in Moscow since 2001.

Egor Ostrov

Egor Ostrov was born in Leningrad in 1970 in a family of artists. Through learning painting from his grandmother, an academic painter Lea Ostrova, reading books illustrated by his father Svetozar Ostrov, from his early childhood Egor was absorbing the aesthetics of perfectionism. After graduating from school, Egor developed a passion for science and enrolled in Leningrad Electrotechnical Institute and later, in the Academy of Arts. Meeting Timur Novikov in early 90-s and taking part in the New Academy of Fine Arts defined his way forward. Soon afterwards Egor Ostrov found his unique style. In 1992 he created his first paintings in the raster technique that later became his signature style. A 1994 landmark exhibition made Egor one of the most successful young Russian painters of that time.
Throughout the years, Egor collaborated with various famous galleries. His works are stored and being exhibited at largest international museums (Stedelijk Museum in Amsterdam, National Museum of Contemporary Art in Oslo, Sinebrychoff Art Museum in Helsinki, The State Russian Museum in St. Petersburg) and private collections. Ostrov lives and works in Moscow since 2001.

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Egor Ostrov’s work exists at the junction of two major trends in art: tradition and innovation. The painting blurs the line between figuration and abstraction in this almost blind spot of contemporary art.

Born in Leningrad in 1970 to a family of hereditary artists, Egor Ostrov continued the dynasty. Even as a kid Egor absorbed the aesthetics of artistic perfectionism, having learned the drawing from his grandmother, the academic artist Leah Ostrova, and getting acquainted with the illustrations of his father Svetozar Ostrov. Pursuing his passion for science Egor began his studies in the Electrotechnical Institute and, only later, in the Academy of Arts. At this time, Timur Novikov created the New Academy of Fine Arts in St. Petersburg, whose main task was to preserve the ideals of beauty and the classical European tradition in art. Once in its ranks, Egor Ostrov immediately became one of the most successful young artists. 

The subjects of the paintings of Egor Ostrov are the works of the Old Masters. His work demonstrates the artist’s ability to see the relevance between classics and modernity. All the subjects are carefully selected,  it can be a series of heads, figurative scenes, landscapes, and genre scenes. In all of them, Egor captures the essential,  revealing it by the means of modern art. Moreover, often it is a detail selected according to the principle of the golden section.

The formation of Egor Ostrov as an independent artist has happened, as we have already said, through classical drawing and painting, Arabic gum, and many other techniques. In 1992, Egor Ostrov found what he was looking for: combining new technologies and classic materials – canvas and paints, he found his territory in the world of art, where he has been working for the next 28 years.

Egor is constantly experimenting and refining his own technologies and materials. For the first 10 years, he meticulously drew every line with a brush, using all kinds of materials and methods for perfectly transferring lines to canvas, wood, or mirror. The production of each work took a significant amount of time, and it was impossible to realize all the sketches conceived. In the early 2000s, it became possible to cut stencils and use high-tech automotive paints in sprays, and for the next 10 years, he experimented in this direction. Over the past few years, Egor has continued to use stencils, but the approach has changed somewhat: he takes more time to choose images, works on sketches for a long time, and again he does a serious part of the work manually with a brush. From the very beginning, Egor tried to follow the classical technologies of producing a work of art: well-stretched canvas, high-quality soil, and colorfastness to prolong the life of the work. Even to the choice of materials, Egor Ostrov is suitable from a classical point of view, therefore porcelain is not accidental as a second material.

Egor’s work is optical, and it requires a lively eye. Work should have been seen live as the goal is to “deceive” human vision and its neural mechanism or perception. The secret of the illusion is to use color contrasts and geometry in creating movement on a flat surface through the interaction between the retina (the organ that “sees” the image) and the brain (which interprets it). The human gaze is “attracted” to contrasting areas. The sharp boundaries between light and shadow attract attention, and the perception of contrast intensifies – the phenomenon of “antagonism of the center-environment”. Each painting creates the effect of movement, against the background of which an illusory image appears while being viewed. Egor explores such abstract ideas as eternity, infinity, and the impossible.

The basis of the artistic language of Egor Ostrov is a linear raster. Using the thickness and sharpness of the line, the raster transmits a black-and-white effect, helping the eye to read the image. The optical effect is so-called chiaroscuro, transmitted by the thickness of the lines – a technique developed by old master engravers and implemented in computer programs in the 20th century. With aero-color professional painting supplies and computer technologies, Egor recreates a printing raster, demonstrating the capabilities of contemporary classical art. The raster serves its direct purpose: it creates the images of classical art on canvases through the finest gradations of lights and shadows. Raster bands create movement, which can be centrifugal or centripetal, it moves, flows, runs, snakes, or curls in a circle, vibrates, trembles, closes, or pours out the limits of the canvas. Moreover, this movement has features, it is always uniform, the speed is always dictated by the artist himself, and the rhythm is self-reproducing every time, the viewer looks at the image.

 

The work of Egor is akin to meditation, as if the paintings are creating themselves in the eyes of the beholder, and the stripes line up in harmonious and strict order, allowing to catch the image through the grid of the raster.
Sometimes it seems that the raster itself dictates to its creator the rules for constructing the composition, its voice can be weaker or stronger, but it is undeniable that he dictates to the viewer how to look and see each individual work – a conscious dodge of the artist. He draws us into the space of painting, optically deceives, slipping abstract geometry instead of a figurative image, teases and returns the image to its place, depending on our proximity to the picture and the attentiveness of the look.

Egor Ostrov masterly uses optical effects in such a way, that every time you look at his painting a small miracle happens, and an image stands out from abstract lines. For all the complexity of technology, the multilayered meanings, the science of optics, the paintings by Ostrov are simultaneously encrypted and straightforward, simple and multifaceted, concise and verbose, and above all just poetically beautiful.

 

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