Long recognized for his singular works combining text and figuration, Volykhine merges disparate elements of Russian iconography, re-inscribing strange and often obscured meanings into normative narrative structures reminiscent of comic strips and advertising. Emerging from behind the iron curtain, Volykhine’s paintings and works on paper, capture the underlying forces that dominate and determine the conditions of the human psyche.
In this exhibition of new works, Volykhine continues to expand upon strategies of collage, drawing, and painting that conjure earlier established themes and imagery mined from a myriad of sources including, movies, cult icons, literature, television and personal history. This broad range of historical references not only foregrounds Volykhine’s own interest in appropriating past visual and literary styles, but also invokes the schizophrenic and pathological impulses at work in the Russian imaginary. As the use of color has played an increasingly central role in these more recent works, so has the formal concern for surface, space, and technique, resulting in densely populated and fragmentary images that further articulate Volykhine’s refusal to offer conventional narrative logic. Often at once perversely funny and poetically contemplative, Volykhine’s power lies in his ability to occupy multiple positions at once, and ultimately to implicate text and image in a slippery production of meaning.
Born in 1967 in Ust Labinsk, USSR, Ilya Volykhine, emigrated to the USA in 1991. He resided in NYC and exhibited there until 2000, when he left for Australia. He became a citizen of Australia in 2006, and since 2009, has called New Zealand his home. Volykhine’s work has been the subject of numerous solo and group exhibitions throughout New Zealand and abroad, including the New Zealand Painting & Printmaking Award Exhibition, the Walker & Hall Art Award Exhibition, the Archibald Prize Award Exhibition in Australia, the Jacaranda Drawing Prize Exhibition and the Blake Prize for Religious Art. His work held in public and private collections worldwide. Volykhine currently lives and works in Queenstown, NZ.