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Iliya Mirochnik

"Spaces Between"
collection at james yarosh associates fine art gallery

The series of paintings poetically illustrate shared life journeys imagined as racing through the museum using his perceptions of seeking order and sanctuary for its treasures, before closing time. The show also includes the artist's composition paintings that led up to the finished large scale works.

"The work for this show came from a desire to minimize the spectators external physical motions and maximize his or her inner ones; in essence, to keep them from moving away from the work, to hold them. The way to achieve this was to stake on a plurality of interpretations by creating a system which at once is shockingly unusual and yet, curiously familiar. In these paintings I have been rather "a tourist among ideas". Having begun with my personal and private life and having arrived in much more varied, and "objective" places, I have attempted to be a "journalist of my own experience". I am interested in an area of viewing from such a position that it cannot be separated from that on which the gaze is turned. In these works, as well as in the themes themselves, the focus is never on a single moment or place or image; instead, I have focused on the spaces between them." - Iliya Mirochnik


T.S. Elliot excerpt: The Waste Land - V. What the Thunder Said

After the torchlight red on sweaty faces
After the frosty silence in the gardens
After the agony in stony places
The shouting and the crying
Prison and palace and reverberation
Of thunder of spring over distant mountains
He who was living is now dead
We who were living are now dying
With a little patience

Here is no water but only rock
Rock and no water and the sandy road
The road winding above among the mountains
Which are mountains of rock without water
If there were water we should stop and drink
Amongst the rock one cannot stop or think
Sweat is dry and feet are in the sand
If there were only water amongst the rock
Dead mountain mouth of carious teeth that cannot spit
Here one can neither stand nor lie nor sit
There is not even silence in the mountains
But dry sterile thunder without rain
There is not even solitude in the mountains
But red sullen faces sneer and snarl
From doors of mudcracked houses

Iliya Mirochnik, "Mudcracked Houses", 2014-5, 39in x 48in, oil on canvas

From Sonnet 16 of "In Time of War" by W.H. Auden

Here war is simple like a monument:
A telephone is speaking to a man;
Flags on a map assert that troops were sent;
A boy brings milk in bowls. There is a plan
For living men in terror of their lives,
Who thirst at nine who were to thirst at noon,
And can be lost and are, and miss their wives,
And, unlike an idea, can die too soon.
But ideas can be true although men die,
And we can watch a thousand faces
Made active by one lie:
And maps can really point to places
Where life is evil now:
Nanking; Dachau.

Iliya Mirochnik, "War is Simple like a Monument", 2014-15, 37in x 60in, oil on canvas
In Mirochnik's candid depiction of his paternal grandfather, War Is Simple like a Monument, time is, ironically, the most pervasive and invasive character. The painter admits to having only recently met the elderly grandfather, who has been living in Berlin—somewhat estranged from the family. The man is shown in a formal pose, on a chair, staring at the viewer. Surrounding him, though, are elements of architecture, actual segments of a concrete structure, one that clearly occupies an outdoor setting. The building fragments that Mirochnik has painted beyond the shoulders of his grandfather are those of Berlin's Memorial to the Murdered Jews of Europe, a reference to his own Jewish roots and the effects of World War II on his family. Of that 2005 monument by the architect Peter Eisenman, Mirochnik comments: "It's huge and you can't walk past it and it's powerful, yet it almost isn't what it is. You have people eating their lunches on the markers and kids playing hide-and-seek, which, I think, is actually part of the meaning or evolution of the monument." - David Masello

I am so cold. The spring's transparent flow
Has left Petropolis in green down dressed,
A Jellyfish, the Neva's wave, lies low
And penetrates me with a light disgust.
On the embankment of the northern stream
The automotive fireflies, they gleam,
The dragonflies and steely beetles soar
The stars are glowing, pins of golden ore
But not a one lone star can smother
The water's oceanic emerald clutter.

In crystalline Petropolis we'll die
It always was Persephone' arena
With every breath we drink the air of death
And every hour, allots a century's patina,
Oh queen of seas, formidable Athena
Remove your decuman helmet and sheath
In crystalline Petropolis we'll die
It isn't yours, but Persephone's arena

"The question about monuments returns in this painting, asking yet again whether we are to live side by side with the monuments we erect. Or is it that as soon as a memento of any past event is constructed it presents a rift with the very fabric of our being, stands out as something utterly unnatural and conflicting. In the world of monuments, sculptures, parks, and cities, there seems to be, in their very format, something into which human inhabitants don't fit." - IM

"crystalline petropolis"

"crystalline petropolis"  
Iliya Mirochnik, "Crystalline Petropolis", 2014-5, 39in x 48in, oil on canvas  
"My translation of the Mandelshtam poem above is making a comment about the name change of the city from St. Petersburg to Petrograd, from German to Russian (during WW1) Burg-Grad (city). Mandelshtam calls Petropolis, changing once more, but this time into Greek. He was constructing the myth of St. Petersburg as a cold ( Persephone) and unwelcoming, yet somehow being the origin (Greece) of a "new Russia", starting with Peter the Great.

The painting is not making any political comment but is more about my personal relationship with the city. There is something about it that prevents entrance. It is always cold, like a monument to itself. But the word monument comes from the Latin word for memory and to me (and to many other artists and writers) St. Petersburg never really exists in the present. It is always a notion of the past, either a personal or cultural one. For me, it is a difficult relationship. Both the city and my relationship (at the time of painting it). And yet I consider it more "home" than any other place." IM

"What is this face, less clear and clearer
The pulse in the arm, less strong and stronger
Given or lent? More distant that stars and nearer than the eye"

T.S. Eliot
"draft for a contemporary love poem"
Iliya Mirochnik, "Draft for a Contemporary Love Poem", 2014-5, 38in x 48in, oil on canvas
From Sonnet 15 of "In Times of War" by W.H. Auden

Engines bear them through the sky: they're free
And isolated like the very rich;
Remote like savants, they can only see
The breathing city as a target which
Requires their skill; will never see how flying
Is the creation of ideas they hate,
Nor how their own machines are always trying
To push through into life. They chose a fate
The islands where they live did not compel.
Though earth may teach our proper discipline,
At any time it will be possible
To turn away from freedom and become
Bound like the heiress in her mother's womb,
And helpless as the poor have always been.
"isolated like the very rich"
Iliya Mirochnik, "Isolated like the Very Rich", 2014-5, 40in x 48in, oil on canvas  
"The only constant reality and solace in my world of great distances and loss of an idea of home seems to be the world of the telephone and the airport. A broken box of letters is what Ted Hughes called the silent telephone. These are the places of the most fruitful ideas. With any wealth, you immediately fall into a minority of one. There is both happiness and sadness in isolation." IM
For instance, within the newly completed Fathers and Sons, a portrait of Mirochnik's father sitting at a table in their Coney Island family home, appears another, smaller figurative portrait, as if it were an inset. That other image shows a young man asleep on a sofa. These images are independent of one another, yet also thoroughly engaged.
In Fathers and Sons, Mirochnik's depiction of his father at home with another figure asleep on a sofa, is, of course, a domestic scene, a setting explored obsessively by Bonnard. "This is essentially a portrait of my father, but the canvas also includes a self-portrait assuming a pose that is unnatural to me, but one in which my father often falls asleep," Mirochnik says. "It's a painting about connections I have, and it's also about the relationship I have with my father, which has changed as I get older." For a painter who insists he needs to plan ahead, to create a visual outline of what will appear in finished form, Mirochnik concedes that some of what ultimately gets painted is the result of subconscious activity. "I'm not the kind of impulsive painter who gets started and finds that something else happens along the way. That does happen eventually, though, but only because I have planned ahead. And if I try to explain what this painting means," he says of the father/self-portrait, "all I can say is that there are times when the image comes before the understanding of the image."

-David Masello for American Artist Quarterly- Summer 2015
"fathers and sons"  
Iliya Mirochnik, "Fathers and Sons", 2014-5, 50in x 70in, oil on canvas
The Gothic Library is at the southern border of the New Garden (in Potsdam, Germany). This little two-level pavilion contained the library of Frederich William II, with works in French being located on the ground floor and those in German on the upper level. In contrast to his predecessor Frederick the Great, who favored everything French, Frederich William II encouraged German arts and letters. Only works by Friedrich Schiller and Gotthold Ephraim Lessing could be performed in Prussian theaters.

The title comes from the quote by the German romantic poet Heinrich Heine, foreshadowing a great deal of what was to come:
"Where they have burned books, they will also ultimately burn people."
""where they have burned books"
Iliya Mirochnik, "Where they have Burned Books", 2014-5, 48in x 60in, oil on canvas
View from a Train
By Stephen Spender

The face of the landscape is a mask
Of bone and iron lines where time
Has ploughed its character.
I look and look to read a sign,
Through errors of light and eyes of water
Beneath the land's will, of a fear
And the memory of chaos,
As man behind his mask still wears a child.
"a mask of bone and iron lines"  
Iliya Mirochnik, "A Mask of Bone and Iron Lines", 2014-5, 48in x 60in, oil on canvas
A Mask of Bone and Iron Lines is yet another conspicuous example of Mirochnik's penchant for overlaying images and narratives. He has positioned his artist-friend Bradley Wehrman beside an open window through which a fragment of the Manhattan streetscape appears. That image, in turn, is surrounded, or framed, by a Byzantinely complex amalgam of power plant pipes and valves, thus offering two distinct narratives. "I was mainly aiming to capture— and primarily with visual associations more so even than Bradley himself— our regular discussions and conflicts stemming from living in constantly expanding, ominous cities." -David Masello for American Artist Quarterly- Summer 2015
Title from Musee des Beaux Arts by W.H.Auden
About suffering they were never wrong,
The old Masters: how well they understood
Its human position: how it takes place
While someone else is eating or opening a window or just walking dully along;
How, when the aged are reverently, passionately waiting
For the miraculous birth, there always must be
Children who did not specially want it to happen, skating
On a pond at the edge of the wood:
"about suffering they were never wrong"
Iliya Mirochnik, "About Suffering they were Never Wrong", 2014-5, 43in x 48in, oil on canvas
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