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Exhibition of new paintings by Denis Patrakeev at Erarta Galleries London
Denis Patrakeev, 361 degrees, 2011. Oil on canvas, 125 x 180. Photo: Courtesy Erarta Galleries London.

LONDON.- Erarta Galleries London presents an exhibition of new paintings by Denis Patrakeev. One of the youngest rising stars of the Russian art scene, Patrakeev makes bleak, powerfully unsettling work that addresses the operations of memory, and the traumas of identity and belonging within contemporary society.

His ‘Game Earth’ series of paintings depict children’s playgrounds: a sort of idealized, isolated model of social interaction, a rehearsal space for future social behavior – yet also an arena, as the artist describes it, “where I started to depart from the real me – as a child in a playground, during my first unprotected contact with society”. Restricting his palette to sombre, dingy colours, Patrakeev’s images appear deeply sinister and threatening, uncannily devoid of any human beings, stripped of their usual social usage. Instead, with their cold, metal climbing frames and equipment, and surrounded by barren winter trees, they seem more like abandoned monuments, eerie memorials to some tragic, traumatic event; or like ominous torture devices, contraptions for social indoctrination. Mixing together figurative with abstract elements, and combining radically different sorts of painting methods, Patrakeev’s works suggest a sort of cut-andpaste sensibility – a profound feeling of quotation and fragmentation; and of the primal struggle to somehow locate an authentic sense of self within the violent distractions of the social realm.

Also included in the show are Patrakeev’s largest works to date, selected from his ongoing series ‘361°’: multiple canvases arranged into long sequences, featuring mixed-media depictions of parks, lakes, and beaches – all given a characteristically forlorn, hauntingly numinous flavour. His style here is more wild and expressionist, as he constantly negotiates the uncertain territory between depicting an image, excavating it from memory, and simultaneously obliterating it, blurring and overlaying its identifiable features – a constant sense of excess that also relates to the overall title of the series. In other, smaller, singular works from the same series, Patrakeev includes numerous construction lines and conversion points: metaphors for the various intersections and choices in life, for attempts to fix or pinpoint meaning and identity.

Denis Patrakeev was born in 1987 in St. Petersburg, where he continues to live and work. In 2009, he graduated from the Fine Art School Herzen. His work has featured in numerous group exhibitions in Russia, and can be found in private collections in many countries.

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