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Yuri Sovelievich Zlotnikov (1930–2016) today is known as one of the central figures of Russian art of the second half of the 20th century, irrespective of its division into official and unofficial. He is a true innovator of non-objective art, from the very beginning of his creative work he came out to discoveries that can be compared with the most important innovations in European art: he created his own version of minimalist abstraction, which is connected with the current scientific picture of the world, but not suspended from the real world.

Zlotnikov was interested in new areas of science that were actively developing in the 1960’s in the USSR: cybernetics, mathematics, logic, psychology and linguistics. Back in the late 1950’s, attention to the problems of communication and its new possibilities led him to create his own artistic method – a «signal system»: he saw support for art in information theory. In his «Signals» he commits a radical rejection of the usual representativeness and focuses on the sign and its expressions: color, rhythm and position in the composition structure, and most importantly – on reflection, models of perception of painting by the viewer.

The abstract «Composition» 1971 is made in gouache on paper. It belongs to a number of non-objective works, which replaced the previous figurative series. Zlotnikov returns to the aesthetics of the «signal system» there. The basis is the white color of the paper – a conventional clean plane, covered as if spontaneously scattered with strokes along it, lines and spots. In fact, the work has a clear rhythm of interaction of elements, distances between them, reminiscent of Morse Code cipher, only launched in several directions at once. The composition is built around the circle and diagonals around the conditioned center, indicated by two dark spots of paint, frozen among the dynamics of the lines. Zlotnikov uses a wide range of color palette: from muffled blue to bright red, he is not afraid of intersections, simple patterns and unexpected strokes of the hand. Identify the quintessence of picturesqueness, find its «elementary particles», determine the optical and color patterns – this is the main goal of the artist. The seeming randomness of the elements is in fact subordinated here to the research task: to embody in art the model of a person's psychic life.

Sergey Popov

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