Museum of the East, 1997
Ekaterina Rozhkova is a very young artist, but a very mature viewer. She has been brought up by two traditions, the Moscow painting school of the 1970s and the traditional Japanese calligraphy. From these two very national sources her work draws a quality that transcends the national and temporal in art. She is a rare graduate of VGIK who found her place in the visual arts rather than in film. Due to a strange set of circumstances that brought her to Japan, she is a rare artist who mastered both plot-ful and plot-less art. Rozhkova began as an artist who depicted a person’s world through the person, and as such as an illustrator of human stories and moods. A portrait painter whose characters live in a fickle world, stretched and scattered by perspective. The Japanese experience was, as the artist herself has said, extremely difficult and at first alien. It was not easy to repreduce her usual literary characters on the hand-made paper, using transluscent ink and thin brushes.
European literature is not easily translated into kanji. In her own private struggle with the new artistic materials, and in her attempts to bring togehter two infinitely distant experiences, Rozhkova found a third way with its own worth (which is the most important quality), and, surprisingly, in her private experience she did the same work that took the rest of art the entire 20th century. She came to painting that expresses itself with its own visual means, without the aid of literature (with its plots) or theater (with its inevitable cubic space of the stage). It is art which speaks in textures, tones, the rhythm of the lines, the sense of the static and of the flow, of density and transparency. The Japanese element in her work is easily identifiable. These are sheets of kanji writing that are used for parts of the backgrounds. It is a taste for, and knowledge of the textures and colors of paper. It is, in the end, the traditional ceramic vessels, which are now the subjects of her works. And finally, it is a special mastery of the ink. But in no way is it Japanese art. Rozhkova did not become a European that praises Japan, nor a Japanese workingin Europe. In terms of genre, her works are still life; in terms of movements, it is meditative art. But while in the usual hierarchy meditative art finds its form in abstraction, in this case it is what might be called figurative. In her close look at objects, placing them in a special color space, her ex-perience is not unique. Giorgio Morandi, Vladimir Veisberg, and Dmitry Plavinsky are her allies and brothers. It is surprising that the experience of such calm and careful vision came to such a young artist. Immersion into Eastern culture was very important for her, but it did not only purify her art of the cliches of the recognizable, tired methods of Moscow artists, but it gave her a tactile sense of the value of things, and the infinite wisdom of the smallest details. The most important in Ekaterina Rozhkova’s art is that it is visual art, not textual or illustrative.