Friday, October 12, 2018

Dmitry Samarov at Dominican University

O'Connor Art Gallery appears to have been something of an afterthought on the campus of Dominican University in River Forest, Illinois.

Above is the stately, ivy-covered facade of historic Lewis Hall.

Here is the stone marker that lists the offices found there.
If you were looking for an art gallery, you've be disappointed.

Unless.... you stood on top of the flower bed and looked down at the ground.


It took me a while to find this show.  The student who was behind the information desk at the front door of Lewis Hall directed me to the third floor --- where nobody had any idea that art had ever been shown in the entire building.

If you start at the top and systematically walk down every hall, however, the art gallery can be found.
Good luck!


For visitors, this exhibit may be hard to find  -- but for art students at Dominican University, it is remarkably convenient.  It's right in the middle of the art school -- and for this show, especially---that's exactly where it should be.

Dmitry's work can be quite edifying.

First, because the painting and drawing exemplifies the European tradition -- not as a relic of the past, but as a disciplined, and thrilling, way to live in the present.

Second, because Dmitry himself exemplifies the perseverance, as well as the talent, required to master it.  In case you haven't noticed, observational painting and drawing has been outside the mainstream of American art for about seventy years.  It still thrives in the backwaters of sentimental Western (Cowboy) art, commercial illustration,  and feel-good Impressionism -- but Dmitry doesn't go there either.  His art manifests the hardscrabble and vibrant urban life that he lives.


Love these figure drawings!

The above pose of a hefty reclining model, for example, is not nearly as exciting as the drawing that Dmitry created with an inspired arrangement of tones and forms. It's like a monochrome painting - and it makes for a nice comparison with life drawings done by earlier artists in the same  tradition.


Dmitry's line is more heavy, Rembrandt's line is more delicate. They're both good.


Rembrandt's drawing is more descriptive of actual flesh
- while  Dmitry's drawing seems more responsive to the person in the room with him.

Dmitry's figures feel more Twentieth Century. 
 (even if they were drawn in the twenty-first)

Georges Roualt

Here's a Twentieth Century figure drawing that's more about an
expressive figure and less about the surrounding pictorial space.

John Sloan

Here's a Twentieth Century figure drawing  where the body is about anatomical parts and the space behind is more like what was actually behind her.

David Park (1960)

This is more like the kind of figure drawing that Dmitry does.

Dmitry has never taught drawing at any of the dozen or so university level art programs in the Chicago area.

I'd be surprised if anyone who does has ever made a  life drawing as beautiful and compelling as this one.

Dmitry's world seems cluttered and confused -- even though his drawing is not.

It's complex - but not chaotic

What a mess ! --- but still it's been beautifully organized.

Perhaps you could call this ABX realism.

this looks like a  lonely and  impoverished life, but also an intense one.

This appears to be a study for the painting shown above it.

Seen together, they're a nice record of a composing  mind at work - and an example of how a dumpy neighborhood can make for  beautiful painting and drawing.

A delicious feeling for lights and darks

Dmitry specializes in chaotic book shelves -
 which probably means that he's continually poking through them.

Chicago -- the neighborhoods and the urban canyons.

After art school, the artist worked for many years as a cab driver.  That's a pretty tough job -- and Uber has recently made it even tougher .  But he used it as opportunity to sketch out his cab window as well as write stories about his passengers.

For me, the most exciting items in this exhibition were the small sketchbooks that  artist carried with him -- especially when he went out  to hear live music.

Looks like someone had a day in court.

Those two figures on the left page are wonderfully drawn onto it..

These sketches may be quick,
but they're as carefully designed as a painting.

A very lively scene!

The artist currently works at a bar.  Encouraging people to drink away their troubles may not be a noble profession -- but it is a good opportunity for people watching.

That sketch on the left reminds me of a Cezanne landscape.

As one who does a lot of quick sketch figure drawing -- 
I can attest that only a few of mine turn out well.

So much has to be done in such a short period of time.

So many different kinds of things can go wrong.

Which makes these small sketchbooks so amazing.

Every page has turned out well


As Dada , Minimalism, and Conceptual Art are now more than a century old --- one might ask -- what kind of art is really cutting edge any more?

There is nothing new about Dmitry's kind of art either.  It dates back to the 16th  century.

It's the quality of his art that remains a rarity and a happy surprise.


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