Polina Zharkova: Flatness or Symbiosis of Collage and Ornament

Every conscious contemporary artist is primarily a reinventor of basic artistic tools. It could be point, symmetry, graphic editor, mastehin, and so on for example. That is, in addition to the aesthetic concept, social message, and political position, the artist is valuable for their appeal to the instrumental side of visual art. The greatest interest is aroused by artists who consistently develop some concept of rethinking one of the axiomatic principles of art.

Contemporary Russian based artist Polina Zharkova is an outstanding example of consistent work with the flatness. Her full-color, diverse art works exist on the genre spectrum, from false or decorative minimalism to dystopian digital collage. Polina works masterfully and professionally with flatness. Her flatness serves as a general principle, an aesthetic dominant, and the point of convergence for a common artistic style. This style can be described in the following terms: bright local colors, seriality of objects, stylistics of low-budget advertising products, perspective distortions, text inserts, and biomorphism. The variety of overlapping graphic patterns creates the effect of an ornament. However, Zharkova’s ornament is intuitive, not geometric. The patterns form emotionally charged clusters that emphasise the flatness and parallelism of the artistic space to the gaze of the contemplating subject.

Nature by Polina Zharkova

Sometimes Polina uses intersecting planes forming paradoxical perspective effects as a background. Flatness becomes self-contained. This can be called a reference to mass-produced design, religious painting with a reverse perspective, or even retro aesthetics. Exploring the possibilities of flatness does not limit the artist. This allows the artist to form her own style and maximise the boundaries of the opportunity to develop her own artistic thinking. Various objects placed in the “flat world” begin to acquire other properties and qualities. This is the case when compositional experiments become a trigger for exposing the ethical position of the artist. The ethical content of Polina Zharkova’s art works is aimed at pacifying the polarities of human interaction. The acidic expression of colour is balanced by straight lines and geometric restraint. Figurativeness flows into flirtatious textocentricity. The simplicity of the patterns is dissolved in the complexity of the design and compositional sophistication.

The main message of Polina Zharkova’s works is a reflection on the theme of a distinct attempt to overcome the self-created chaos of perception. This chaos is like the midnight reflection of a window opening in a road puddle on a crowded street full of neon signs. Polina expropriates this image in her works, providing it with intellectual content, formal processing, and a humanistic message. She literally creates a perception effect that affects the viewer’s perception of chaos. Chaos placed in the space of deconstructed flatness loses its repressive and frustrating properties. The effect of dissected flatness gives each art work the fluidity of the main task for which it was created. Each art work can be an object for mental concentration, an interior piece, or even a political manifesto.

The political space in Polina’s works is represented by a reflection on the prerequisites of inequality among various people and opportunities to overcome this inequality. Flatness represents the world’s insurmountable hierarchy and injustice. And various patterns and objects act as transgressive factors that destroy the discriminatory foundations of the universe. A wide range of genre, formal and social advantages in the works of Polina Zharkova sincerely captivates. This is an outstanding and extremely interesting work that has the potential to liberate many people from their mental inertia.

Maria Lewis

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