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Valentin Popov

During the course of my curatorial career, it has been my privilege to travel extensively and to survey a wide array of trends and tendencies in visual arts production around the world. In today’s global village, the art scene has become increasingly cosmopolitan and a plethora of culturally diverse and startlingly progressive work is emerging everywhere, unpredictably and in surprising places. Yet how much more unexpected it is to discover a major creative talent of distantly foreign origin here in our own backyard!

Ukrainian born and classically trained multi-media artist Valentin Popov is a transplant from Kiev to California where he populates his bustling studio with a never-ending stream of edgy portraits, allegorical narratives, moody, dream-fueled landscapes, pop surrealist confections and Renaissanceinflected collages. A master of technique, equally at home in a variety of media, genres and styles, Popov can paint a veristic portrait, a Rembrandt etching look-alike, or a fantastic, fabulistic canvas worthy of Dali or Ernst; his sculpture is reminiscent of De Stijl and the Russian Constructivists.
He can deftly simulate the flavor and features of aesthetic methods ranging from Mannerism to Pointillism. His execution is marked by subtlety, sensitivity, and phenomenal attention to innate detail that arises intuitively.
Popov is a postmodernist, thriving on the vast panorama of art history and its proud pageant of myriad movements and schools. Popov has leveraged the liberty inherent in this artistic approach by blending imagery derived from disparate sources in a seamless fusion. His artistic ability is such that he is able to mesh visual elements that would ordinarily clash and collide, in a sort of reverse osmosis. Popov’s Ironic Icons involve a specific set of ingredients: antique imagery excerpted from traditional religious visual aids common for centuries throughout Russia and imagery lifted from
cartoons and comic books of the present-day western hemisphere. Popov juxtaposes these otherwise mutually exclusive constituents in such fashion that they serve as characters of a modern mythology of his own creation. Popov slyly unites high culture with low, elite with popular, Old World tradition with New World vulgarity and, in the process, grants the same credence and validity to Mickey Mouse and Superman as to the saints and martyrs of the Eastern Orthodox Church. Also worth noting is the meta-art aspect of Popov’s oeuvre – the production of art about art with all its internal allusions and inherent self-references.

It has been said that after a hundred years of experiment and innovation, the cultural avant-garde quietly faded away, and the truth of this assertion is all but indisputable. After the initial frenzy of the late nineteenth century and continuing throughout most of the twentieth, a dazzling series of artistic experiments overran the cultural landscape. Little in the way of groundbreaking new movements or trailblazing originality has emerged in the twenty-first century, but here and there a spark of inspiration ignites and gives birth to fresh attitudes and perspectives. With the advent of Postmodernism, artistic compositions combining an amalgam of elements borrowed from miscellaneous historical periods emerged as a novel initiative.

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