Lebedev Rostislav

  ‘A new genre and new material give a new sense of space which is also the main theme of my work. I don’t do painting, I don’t do Sots Art, I don’t do collages, I do space. It is not important what fills it, rather it is important that it exists. It is formed from all that is visible from that energy which also forces all that is visible to come to life, to fill out and to create a sort of universe with a heaven and hell, sky and earth and between them man with his drama’.
‘I love to contrast different things, the natural with the abstract, the material with the weightless. This is very interesting – wood and the cube of a house, the sky and a car, a slogan and man’.
‘My attitude to creativity as with happiness and freedom also defined my attitude to Sots Art. For me it became a fun game, a carnival of the absurd’.

Born in 1946

Rostislav Evgenevich Lebedev, a classicist of modern art, achieving fame as one of the leaders of Sots Art, began with French post-impressionism and Russian icons. His inclination to a colour score of space has defined his artistic journey. At the end of 1972 he began to introduce other materials into his painted space – trimmings of mouldings, boards, paper as well as to create collages and assemblages. The painted and written parts were assembled with fragments of natural objects and joined together as if in competition in terms of their material persuasiveness, creating an unexpected single unit. In Lebedev’s compositions from the middle of the 1970’s, one can often hear the echoes of Russian cubo-futurism – signs, posters, a new corporality – this all creates a sense of giddiness and is perceived like a kaleidoscope where objects are ripped from their normal places and lose their normal appearance. Here, the urbanistic theme itself provoked a fragmentality of perception. However, at the end of the 1970’s, the artist’s attempt to ‘bring to life’ objects took on a more complex character. A fracture in his view of objects took place: the artist’s style develops into an appraisal. He does not just interact with objects, confirming his individual view but the man interacts with them, confirming the reality of the Soviet way of life. He obsesses about the object and the object begins to live in a new reality, a new context. These quasi-accidental shifts and comparisons led him to a genuine figurative breakthrough, the invention of a single conceptual module, the convergence of public life and everyday life. There are often different layers in the work of Rostislav Lebedev: metaphysical, social, aesthetic, even moral, sexual, formal and so on. Influenced by pop-art, he had the idea that if there is overproduction of products in America and on this basis pop-art came about, then here we have an overproduction of ideology, giving rise to Sots Art. The artist was most attracted to the idea of demytholization where the theme of the work becomes not the content of the ideological myths but their absurdity. His paintings are a good-natured smile at the propaganda. He believed that living in a totalitarian society and that in order to survive and not to lose oneself, it is important first and foremost to discard the syndrome of fear.

‘The creative principles of Rostislav Lebedev are based on the idea of a circumrotation of nature, its continual renewal, what is more, nature is understood to mean the unification of the natural primordial world and the world of the artistic environment. Space and chaos, nature and technology, society and the spirit, they are not understood by him as opposites but as something unseparated and undifferentiated because the micro and macro worlds are mutually dependent and, as John Cage said, ‘the music of the spheres may also sound in the sizzling of an egg being fried’. Entering into a dialogue with the audience, Lebedev unlocks his works by suggesting to the audience his creative ability as an inexhaustible source of opportunities’. V. Patsyukov
The artist's work can be found in the following museums and collections:
Contemporary Art Museum