Documentation of days departed
Hardly any other artistic epoch has had the level of lasting influence on our aesthetic sensibilities as the Renaissance with its balanced architecture and elegant sculptures shaped to the point of perfection. It takes only a quick glance and the painting of a grand equestrian statue at the end of the corridor can transport us to 15th-century Italy. Sitting atop his horse is the mercenary leader and later dictator Gattamelata, ruler of Florence and Padua during this period. Despite the portrayal of a war leader, this 1996 work does not emanate imposing authority alone. Rather than a monumental ruler, Russian artist Valery Koshlyakov renders a decaying fragment removed from a once glorious era and planted in the present.
The rider is painted over, he has blank spaces, and his head looks as if it were slapped and smeared with a paint bag. The monumental architecture around him is unfinished with the character of a hasty sketch on ordinary cardboard. Koshlyakov reveals the artistic process and its autonomy via visible brushstrokes, overpainting, and omission. He captures monumental content on simple material. The remnants of the past are re-contextualized and aesthetic exaggerations are questioned, breeding a striking sensitivity.