Soft Skull Press, 9781593766511, 320pp.
Publication Date: August 29, 2017
Face chronicles the development of artist Valentin Popov's traveling exhibition of the same name--a suite of 100 uniformly-sized portraits surveying a social subset of selected friends, acquaintances, and celebrities. Popov explores the mystique of the face not only as the primary organ of human individuation and the immediate modulus of interpersonal recognition, but with respect to such intriguing intangibles as the eternal dialectic between objectivity and subjectivity and the face's ambiguity as both mirror and mask. Popov has explored a wide variety of subject matter and media in his art, and all of his works feature the skilled technique and formal ability for which he has become known. His pieces speak to the lineage of art history, yet sometimes vacillate between homage and parody, often laced with a sense of humor, irony, or Pop. In his latest series, Popov revisits an idea once put forth by Andy Warhol who documented the faces of his friends and acquaintances through photographs and silk screen paintings, many of which were produced at a uniform scale of 40 x 40 inches. Warhol once spoke of mounting an exhibition of these portraits in which the walls would be filled from top to bottom with faces. Face re-examines the portraiture tradition and frames it in postmodern perspective. Featuring lush, full-color plates and insightful text by Peter Selz and other noted critics, curators, and commentators, this exquisite volume is sure to delight the eye and take pride of place among contemporaneous chronicles of cutting-edge portraiture.
About the Author
Valentin Popov was born in Kiev, Ukraine in 1956 at the height of the Cold War era. Afforded a classical education of the highest order, he built a burgeoning career in the fine arts but, as a Soviet citizen, found himself chafing under state doctrine which proscribed any art which didn't conform to the officially approved style of social realism with its propagandistic depictions of patriotic factory workers, farmers laboring in the fields, and other cliches of post-revolutionary zeal. After emigrating to the USA during the late 1980s, Popov quickly assimilated the heritage of western modernism and threw himself into a frenzy of multifaceted artistic production. A past master of pictorial, plastic, and performance media, Valentin Popov is a postmodernist par excellence, combining classical and modernist traditions in a style distinctly his own, at once poetic, technically dazzling, and wryly ironic.