Evgenij Kozlov ‘Miniatures in Paradise’, 1995 page 5
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Archetypes und Prototypes
Evgenij Kozlov developed the figures of the Miniatures in Paradise cycle from the basic shapes of the 1988 man and woman. They are, however, not geometric variants of these shapes. We have already mentioned significant differences between Eve in Miniature 14 and the female figure in Miniature 1. The same can be said of Adam in Miniature 15 and the corresponding male figure. In other words, Adam and Eve serve as a transition between the purely spiritual and the earthly symbols. Therefore, it fits the logic of the sequence that these two Miniatures are placed the end of the cycle.
We can illustrate this by looking at Keith Haring’s figures. Evgenij Kozlov (born in 1955) and Keith Haring (born in 1958) belong to the same generation of artists, and aside from differences in their cultural backgrounds and artistic expressions, some parallels can be drawn between in their work in the 1980s. Both developed figurative symbols that characterised a specific period in their work. For Keith Haring, these include the Radiant Baby, the crocodile, and the manikin with a hole in the skull; for Evgenij Kozlov, they include the skull-headed manikin, the rocket, the plus–minus chain , and later, the geometric figures of a man and a woman. This pair of figures can be juxtaposed with Haring’s sexless figure, just like Kozlov’s angel and Haring’s angel. One must bear in mind, however, that Keith Haring used only a reduced graphic style, which was just one of many possibilities for Evgenij Kozlov.
One might say that the sexless figure is more archetypical than the figures of a man and a woman, as it encompasses them both. This may be true; however, the polarity that binds Kozlov’s figures gives the artist other possibilities to visually diversify this archetype. For the sake of clarity, it should be added that a painting is not a depiction; a proto-image cannot be depicted, only perceived through artistic feeling. A simple painting of the proto-image can be a brilliant intuition, as is the case with the Black Square by Kazimir Malevich. Repeating the simple, however, is the starting point of design, for example, in the designs Haring painted on a BMW.
Comparing the heavenly host in Miniature 5 with Keith Haring’s angels from the 1990 triptych altarpiece can also demonstrate the difference between archetypes and prototypes. Haring always depicts angels from the front with outstretched wings, while Kozlov shows them from different perspectives: in full view, in side view, or at an angle from below. The position of the wings also varies. Therefore, despite a similar graphic approach with figures represented by outlines, Kozlov is able to lend individuality to his characters. Haring’s figures have personality; Kozlov’s figures have both personality and innerliness.
The Miniatures in Paradise exhibition was opened, as planned, at the Great Star square on 15 June 1995 at 6.00 pm. We completed everything literally at the last minute. I managed to obtain all the necessary permits (including those of the Office of the Federal President and the Berlin Senate Chancellery) and the support of various companies for materials and logistics. My success may be partly explained by the fact that I used the stationery of the association that Evgenij Kozlov and I had founded two years prior, ‘art-contact St. Petersburg / Berlin e.V.’
A large number of journalists and cameramen were present for the hoisting of the Miniatures, and accordingly, the media coverage was quite extensive. It was equally extensive when we had to call off the art project before its scheduled end.
Here is the press release for the end of the exhibition:
Anyone who exhibits art in a public space is taking an incalculable risk. This was the experience of St. Petersburg artist Evgenij Kozlov, who showed his Miniatures in Paradise cycle at the Great Star square in Berlin’s Tiergarten park last June.
Having declared the Tiergarten as well as the Great Star, the Victory Column, and the golden angel to be paradise, the artist received permission from the Office of the Federal President and the Berlin Senate Chancellery’s Protocol Office to use the flagpoles at the Great Star between two state visits.
On 15 June, he raised sixteen ‘Miniatures’, 5 × 2 metres each. The bright original paintings with their clear Russian formal idiom, which incorporated the motifs of the surrounding area, proved to be a great temptation to the numerous tourists that visited Berlin during Christo and Jeanne-Claude’s project ‘Wrapped Reichstag’. On the thirteenth day, a cut rope was all that remained on the flagpole of Miniature 3, The Red Point. The series’ key motif, based on the logo of Evgenij Kozlov’s Berlin studio The Russian Field, had disappeared.
The artist had no time to recover from the shock. During the following night, Miniatures 8, 9, and 14 also fell prey to fans. After this, Evgenij Kozlov called off the exhibition one week before its scheduled end in order to save the remaining twelve paintings. The damage was aggravated by the financial loss, as the paintings were uninsured.
We cannot say that we were not warned. When we selected the fabric for the flags, we had two size options: 4 × 1.5 metres and 5 × 2 metres. Since we considered it essential to work on a large scale, we opted for the latter, although we were aware that these would have lower cords and could be reached from a ladder. The fans simply cut the cords and pulled the flags down.
Thus the complete cycle of sixteen Miniatures can only be shown as photographs. It is no small consolation that both cycles are fully preserved on paper. However, even the twelve Miniatures that were not stolen no longer look the same as when they were created. The wind tossed them around and the lacquer paint, which is not as elastic as the fabric, broke in several places and peeled off in narrow strips, especially along the edges. The signs of time are not necessarily detrimental to the Miniatures: they produced new, unplanned effects. Each Miniature in Paradise now has a history of its own, the end of which is still not written.
The artist, however, may know how the story continues:
Of course they were created especially for this place. And the way they were shown was really heavenly. I hope they were stolen by fans from paradise. Sometime and somewhere they will resurface. In any case, I’ll certainly find them again in paradise. That I know for sure. In other words, the next exhibition will take place in paradise – at least the next exhibition with the stolen flags.
© Hannelore Fobo, text and photographies, 1995 / 2012.
Translation from the German: Tatyana Zyulikova; copy editor Erik Marsh.