This spring, Hay Hill Gallery is proud to be presenting a retrospective of paintings and sculpture from artist Oleg Prokofiev. Featuring over sixty works, the show brings together two major stages of his life; before and after exile from Russia. This exciting exhibition leads us from the 1960s USSR period into the popular ‘white-on-white’ canvases of the 1970s, his revolutionary sculptures and last paintings.
Oleg Prokofiev, son of the legendary composer Sergey Prokofiev, wrote that his father’s music inspired in him ‘a wave of some wonderful energy…a poetic or artistic impulse’. Taking the musical form of free expression within set patterns, Prokofiev chose unexpected tones- especially in his later work- exactly as his father used ‘wrong notes’ as a chromatic twist to his compositions. The effect is an atonal shift that resonates visually with the audience long afterwards. The luminous quality of the earlier white period is still very much present in the later paintings, the colours now fully burst into life. Displaying a whole spectrum of feeling, the leaping arpeggios of Prokofiev’s brushstrokes simultaneously embody order and chaos, oscillating between an attraction to structure and a need to destroy it. The artist controls the tempo and patterns with his brush as though he is conducting an orchestra.
The desire to find artistic synthesis between painting and the plastic arts led Prokofiev to a series of sculptural works, following single lines through loops and tangles. Combining an enthusiasm for the new with a stubborn refusal to stay in a ‘safe’ zone, the works show off the artist’s endless fascination with relationships between rhythm, time and space. Using wood and a variety of paints he created a kind of solid music with these energetic and original works. Meandering colours stretch and bend, keeping strict time in shapes. Crowned with bright plumes of reds and blues, the sculptures sit around like oddly angled birds of paradise. Each piece marks significant stages of the artist’s life, lucid and immediate, ultimately transient. They are a testimony to Oleg Prokofiev’s irrepressible spirit, his strength in forgetting about past and future- the belief that the only reality is now.