Introduction By Cy Rimbaud
Given the immense number of creative possibilities an artist can freely choose from, and even combine, Antonin’s stroke takes a new-found brilliance. His visions appear to be guided by a force far greater than his own. One aspect of this is his ability to see the spirit of art everywhere in everything, and bring it to the surface of our lives. His numerous choices for expression vary as greatly as the power of his focused meditations. These meditations speak to us of vibration and light, underlying our everyday world. In contrast to most contemporary art, his is neither figurative nor abstract, neither theatrical nor darkly ironic, not political nor claiming to be part of a stylistic fabrication. Antonin’s work radiates with an intense immediacy that’s magnetism is somehow simultaneously intimate and elusive. It is a unity behind this apparent polarity that imbues these paintings with the quality of being enduring,which is quite rare today and among the contemporary artists of the last several decades. One experiences a familiar knowing when peering into these images, but also a disquieting feeling of being unable to completely take in their entire fullness. There is always more for these paintings to tell us.
The choices of indelible/permanent pigments and fragile materials combined, stirs a sense of lasting and ephemeral in us. His background of color merges with the foreground. As in most of his paintings, Antonin explores a wide range of formal oppositions: materiality and immateriality, light and dark, transparency and solidity, surface and depth, the flow of oil paint and the dusty linearity of pastel. Rather than isolating these polar phenomena, the artist impacts, combines and integrates them. The result is the state of optical flux that dances like a couple into a frenzied dervish finally to merge in union. Deeply imbedded in these paintings is the sense of another reality, a unity behind ambiguity. It is this union that is not only in the universe but lies also within ourselves.
Color reveals a new face here. Colors are made to detach themselves from their shapes and to call upon themselves to reshape compositions. It is as if they had a life of their own. Blues, siennas, purples, greens, golds… jump from visceral planes into lucid depths. They can shadow or shimmer like crystals, reticent or radiant. Light itself lines and sparkles like constellations of unknown universes. Shards of light sources appear to be behind beings in conference, or firing up to the surface of milky pools.
Antonin’s paintings defy categorization. The way all the separate elements assert their identity, while tightly interlocking with each other– this is one of the wonders great art can convey. Yet there is in this work an equally intense wonderousness and wondering.
These paintings are like newly discovered constellations, alive and speaking to us, through us. Everything about them is magnetic, holding us in some orbit of seeing. As we meditate upon them (the only way to experience them), we become quieted by the awe of a new vision, as if looking into ourselves. The passion in them pulls us out of our thoughts and problems, bringing us into this present moment awareness. Like an ancient astronomer finding a new planet for the first time, I found in Antonin’s work a new application for art I didn’t know existed.
Both Antonin’s paintings and sculptures are intimate and elusive as dreams. Such earthly materials as oil paint, canvas, paper, clay, and metal have been transformed into something foreign to their very nature. It is nothing less than magical; as is its alchemy, it plays upon us who experience it.
It is the spiritual discovery at work in the artist we find also at work within us. This is a truth ever present being newly translated in a language eloquent but sublime. I am reminded of the direction spoke of by the wisdom traditions of all cultures. Like them, Antonin is primarily focused on revealing the unity behind the seemingly ambiguous state we call reality.
His constant investigation into infinite possibilities of expressing really what can never fully be expressed… His obsession with the play of light and dark… is not to view them as opposing forces, but to make them one, knowing that they already are in truth one. One senses his obsession with color, painting, and art are not obsessions at all, but evidence of pure mystical presence. Certainly his relentless investigation of this phenomenon brings to mind a number of creation myths. Yet we can sense Antonin feels the universe was not once upon a time created, but is continually being created… and we somehow have a hand in all of this. Finally, like great poetry, the artist’s work calls us into a beyondness outside of ordinary life, yet somehow is more fully expressing all aspects of life.
Rather than seeing his placement of puddled color– these pools of light– as haphazard, we go beyond seeing into feeling. We should recognize that perfect symmetry and completeness are impossible.
Completeness argues the universe is a closed system, which we now know is not true. In the work of Antonin, there is a completeness that is incomplete, an incompleteness that is complete. The same is true for the universe. An ever-deepening mystery is continually being revealed.