Igor Melnikov – The Railroad
Dimensions: 53 x 57″ framed / 48 x 52″ unframed
Medium: acrylic on panel
Igor Melnikov’s acrylic on panel work, The Railroad, exhibits the artist’s fascination with the natural world; with its loose formality and simple color palette, Melnikov’s landscape suggests a world simultaneously ageless and untouched by human influence. The work encourages a layered viewing process, whereby the audience’s eyes are both easily led around the work due to its simple subject matter, and drawn in through Melnikov’s rich texturing and subtle manipulations of shade. In the same way that his children’s expressions are often indecipherable, the work’s landscape cannot be tied to a specific season or physical location.
Russian born artist, Igor Melnivok, upends traditional associations with portraiture through his haunting and intrinsically psychological paintings of emotionally ambiguous children and within his subtle natural explorations. Rather than focusing on the individual identity of those within his works, Melnikov instead looks to viewers as dynamic participants in the interpretation of his paintings, allowing them to determine whether the children might burst into tears or laughter, based on personal experience, thought, and upbringing. Melnikov is fascinated with the simultaneity of happiness and suffering, which he believes function as an expression of the ‘complexity of the human personality’ and exist as a component of the ‘meaning of being’. Melnikov’s paintings are collage-like, yet not in the traditional, material sense of the process—instead layering his own psychological explorations onto his attempted understandings of the human condition and expression. While his muted color palettes might at first appear to be reductive, they instead focus viewers’ attention on the figures within the work and encourage slow and thorough readings of the detailing that remains visually available. While people and the human condition remain the primary subjects within his paintings, Melnikov also expresses an artistic concern for the natural world, whether expressed in landscape surroundings or in its more material and familiar manifestations, seen in the figure’s clothing and simple possessions.
by Keira Seidenberg, Art History/Gender Studies student, McGill University