Oleg Kudryashov

Diptych No. 21


In Tate Britain

Prints and Drawings Room

View by appointment
Oleg Kudryashov born 1932
Original title
Diptikha doskai 21
Drypoint and gouache on paper
Support, each: 719 × 1217 mm
Purchased 1984

Catalogue entry

Oleg Kudryashov born 1932

P77104 Diptych No. 21 1982

Drypoint in two parts various sizes on Vélin d'Arches 300 gsm paper; printed and published by the artist; not editioned
(i) Drypoint 635 x 1076 (25 x 42 1/8) on paper 723 x 1219 (28 3/8 x 47 1/2)
Inscribed ‘Oleg Kudryashov 82' below image b.r. and ‘1/1 | [Cyrillic Russian inscription: plate n.21 first of diptych]' below image b.l.
(ii) Drypoint with gouache 650 x 1105 (25 5/8 x 43 3/4) on paper 719 x 1217 (28 1/2 x 47 7/8)
Inscribed ‘Oleg Kudryashov 82' below image b.r. and ‘1/1 | [Cyrillic Russian inscription: plate n.21 second of diptych]' below image b.l.
Purchased from the Artist (Grant-in-Aid) 1984

This and the entry on P77105 are based on a conversation between the artist and the compiler with the artist's wife acting as translator, on 19 January 1988, and have been approved by the artist.

The plate for P77104 was a sheet of industrial zinc, favoured by the artist because it is available cheaply in large sizes, can be cut easily and is tough and energetic to work with. Part (i), the monochrome print, was printed from the intact sheet while the coloured impression was printed from the plate cut into several pieces.

Kudryashov's method is very direct. The zinc was first cleaned to remove oil from the surface and then worked over with a fine sand paper which provided a key to hold a fine deposit of ink as a tonal background to the final image. Kudryashov then drew into the zinc plate using a hard steel needle and established the composition very swiftly using body weight to vary the depth and thickness of the individual lines and using a ruler when very straight lines were needed. He also used a home-made compass to create the two even circles. In places where the pin has gouged with great weight or roughness, thin shavings of steel are thrown up and these, intentionally unremoved, became embedded in the paper and remain in the final image. Lighter strokes were used to score in a broad cross-hatched background.

The execution of part (ii) proceeded immediately after taking the single impression of part (i). Kudryashov used a steel brush to hatch further lines and then cut the plate into several pieces. When these had been inked and rubbed down the artist drew into the plate once again with the steel needle, thus removing all traces of ink from lines which eventually printed as white. The gouache was applied to the blank paper with a large brush. The paint ran as the artist turned the paper over to place it on to the plate on the bed of the press and evidence of its running can be seen to the left of the image. Where the plate and paper pressed together the colour has been ‘forced' into a lighter tone. However in the gaps between plate and paper it has retained the vibrant strength of the original tone: burnt sienna with a little chinese white.

Kudryashov works swiftly with no preparatory drawings. The composition presents a ‘topographical' compilation-view of Moscow, the artist's native city, and London, his adopted home. The image is not intended to be seen as a map with a logical sequence of streets and buildings but as a mental picture, flitting here and there, from the ground and from on high. Kudryashov recalls his adventures in Moscow as a boy, darting round corners on a home-made scooter; this image reflects a multiplicity of such memories combined with more recent sensations. The scrawled inscriptions, printed in reverse, describe street names, tram numbers and destinations, in Russian, and were the familiar words, intrinsically associated with the city, that came into his head at the time.

The artist has stated that although the ‘subject' accompanied the action of making the initial marks in the zinc the ‘feeling' of the image as a ‘structure in space' is more important. According to the artist his procedure is akin to painting. He eschews the idea of editioning and works entirely without the intervention of chemicals or specialist printmaking tools and techniques. In working directly on the plate with a needle or brush as the only intermediary between body and image, Kudryashov sees physical gesture as of paramount importance. He compares these gestures to those made by a farm labourer or factory worker or those made when cutting a loaf of bread and also those made by a painter. All these, he believes, use gesture in an identical way. In P77104 the relationship between parts (i) and (ii) is the same as that between a drawing and a painting. The first print is ‘very hard and tough and ascetic' while the later image ‘is completely different ... its going deeper and colour illuminates (it)'

The two parts of P77104 can be displayed side by side or one on top of the other.

Published in:
The Tate Gallery 1984-86: Illustrated Catalogue of Acquisitions Including Supplement to Catalogue of Acquisitions 1982-84, Tate Gallery, London 1988, pp.401-3

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