Shimon Okshteyn

Lost Christmas
10.02.2011 – 28.02.2011, Triumph Gallery, Metropol

Shimon Okshteyn’s latest series of works, ‘Lost Christmas’, comprises nine large-format paintings which combine Okshteyn’s mastery of technique and his fascination with the decorative qualities of contemporary consumerism. A graduate of Odessa Art School who emigrated to the USA in 1980, Okshteyn uses his academic training to produce perfect photo-realism, blending the artistic traditions of his homeland with those of his adopted country. Okshteyn’s early works focused on the items of everyday life, some already on their way in to the annals of history – manual typewriters, classic telephones, bowler hats. By 2005 he was reproducing Old Master still life paintings in graphite and charcoal, providing a fresh look at master works by focusing on the precision of their rendition through the medium of monochrome. As always, Okshteyn made a nod to the contemporary, framing his Still Lives in ornate, brightly-coloured frames with a strong element of kitsch.

‘Lost Christmas’ is a clear development from the 2005 Still Lives series. Rather than reproducing images, Okshteyn takes elements of Old Master still life and vanitas paintings and adds contemporary elements – toys, iPhones, perfume, jewellery, the trappings of our lives immortalised on canvas. Okshteyn’s new paintings move away from monochrome to colour. While the backgrounds remain in black and white, foreground elements are painted  in various tones, merging the new and the old in a riot of colour. That modern master of colour, Damien Hirst, features here too. A vanitas painting is transformed to a jeweller’s workshop, with Hirst’s ‘For the Love of God’ resplendent among skulls of various levels of decoration.

Shimon Okshteyn’s work is held in various museums, including the Whitney and the Brooklyn Museum, as well as numerous private collections. He lives and works in New York. His most recent solo exhibition in Moscow was ‘Dialogue with Objects’ at M’ARS Contemporary Art Centre in 2007.

‘Lost Christmas’ runs from 10 to 28 February 2011 at Triumph Metropol.