Catalogue of the Art London exhibition, 2003

Ekaterina Rozhkova’s graphic series “Plates” has a special place among art that focuses on traditional aesthetic values and on plastic representation. Despite the clarity of the works, they contain no stylistic addresses: they show no photographic realism, although everything is drawn very realistically. The large format of the easel works, the technical extravagance of the classical drawing — all of this creates an unusual effect, where the oppositions of a tired technique seem neutralized. The very notion of “graphic art” can hardly be applied to these works — they show the monochromatic pictorial quality that was sought by the symbolic painters at the turn of the last century. The glimmer of the surfaces, created with the texture of the base, the scratches extend the boundaries of “graphic art”. As a result, one can talk about a painter who painted “live”, and about the works as mystical bodies that are created at the boundaries of the ordinary, quotidian, and because of this touch on the sphere of the invisible.

The structure of the series is determined by the drawing, which understood by Rozhkova not as one of many possible techniques, but as a principle. We are dealing not just with its right to self-sufficiency, but with a return of the idea of drawing. This follows first of all from the artist’s deeply conscious love of the process itself. The infinite and apparently uncontrolled swirl of the line brings to mind Pollock’s paradoxical utterance: “when I’m inside the picture, I know what I’m doing”. The extatic shaman-like charge ends harmoniously. And how perfect is the result: when the line became a circle, humanity acquired a perfect image, which describes the ideal structure of the universe, the principles of cyclic revolution, and of the eternal return to the origin as a goal. Here we become not only spectators of a work of art, but at the same time witnesses of a transsubstantiation, a real action, a kind of prayer through drawing. The white background of the works serves to strengthen this impression, where the holy suns of plates are incandescently extinguished; it is an incorrupt shadow, an demonstrated reflection of an imagined, concealed real beauty, reminding us about Heideggerian pure quality of a thing.

The plates themselves are, of course, not functional in the horizontal, earthly dimension. These are sacred Buddhist objects that are used to extract a meditative sound through revolution. Their spheroidal forms are directly connected with the heavenly spheres, drawing our consciousness away from the trap of infinite causality of everyday life, and tuning it to perceiving the essence of things. The large size of the works, similar to the real size of the sacrificial plates, evokes a metaphoric replacement of a sacred image in a profane space.

Every image balances at the boundary of extreme contreteness (even though the drawing themselves have nothing to do with copying a model), and a true abstraction. The artist found that rare, singular condition between an object and its idea, which in this case can be called “the plate effect”. We can’t say about it that it’s just an image, or a symbol, or a mandala — but we can express the blissful state of indeterminacy, which speaks… about the cosmos that is rolled up into a thing, which convinces us about our own wholeness in capturing the constantly escaping image of the monad, an atomic unit of the world, about the maximally simple which also becomes all-encompassing.

The visual space of Ekaterina Rozhkova’s works is not limited by the tranditional European consciousness. The artist — in all senses a person of the world — absorbed the greated artistic and spiritual traditions of humankind, leaving behind the stage of sylization, rose to the level of universality, which conceal something greater than simply artistic experience–what is behind it is a personal experience of living the integral Tradition. At the same time it allows a most precise understanding of the national, which Dostoevsky had already characterised as an all-encompassing view.

Sergey Popov