Vladimir Potapov is a Moscow-based curator and artist working in the genre of contemporary painting, through which he speculates about perceptions of the past and expands possibilities of painting in the present. Potapov's visual language consists of well-staged abstract forms laid out on simple, readable figurative compositions that allude to people's portraits, situations, and time. With his works, the artist elicits sensory and, at times, nostalgic reactions from viewers – a barely noticeable dream from the past, which simultaneously reveals reality and the present.
At Tengri Umai Gallery, Vladimir Potapov presents Inside, his first solo exhibition in Kazakhstan. The paintings in the series, while complying with canonical laws such as form, color, and composition, penetrate the realm of sculpture and utilize its two fundamental creative techniques: plastering over and chopping off. Inside took its roots in the latter. Once at a playground, the artist noticed the depth of flaking paint and, later, applied this technique to his paintings by carving out an image through layers. Soon after, Potapov inverted the process by plastering layers over a clean wooden base, which he uses as canvas.
Vladimir Potapov compares the pieces in the series to "playing hide-and-seek or roulette or attempting to pass through a mine field. All these associations are connected through one key feature – unpredictability. For me, it is equivalent to a mistake, loss of control, and chaos. It is a literal equation in several variables such as color of layers on surface, thickness and uniformity, and random fragments of brochures and posters. While the classical approach of painting is fully controlled by an artist and is, to some extent, a self-portrait, my works make room for unpredictability, characterized by inability to foretell steps in advance and the need to correlate each new layer with previously emerged ones. I see it as playing chess with chance, as an attempt to tame chaos by outlining its borders and giving it figurative limits. What became a revelation to me is my enjoyment of giving in to this game and the desire to lose it.
I discovered that I loved just letting it go, I wanted to keep on playing."
Another example of Potapov's creative practice is Yurt, an eight-meter picture of a Kazakh yurt in a steppe painted on the facade of a residential building in the Aksai-4 microdistrict in Almaty. The work, which is fundamentally different in its artistic technique, nevertheless also deals with layers of the past and its relationship with the present.