Return of the prodigal son, 9"x12", 2009, by Dmitri Fedosseev

The adjective vehement means, forceful, impassioned, violent, ardent, fervent, zealous, fierce, intense, inflamed, excited, furious. A certain impulse and skip up the stairs to the Twist Gallery at 1100 Queen St. W. in Toronto on a sunny Saturday, lands a friend and me in the midst of all of the above, emanating from very large paintings.

Toronto curator Mark Zadorozny's show of Dmitri Fedosseev's canvases is aptly named Vehement. Fedosseev is a wildly talented 25 year old artist in Zadorozny's Mark Christopher Gallery stable; his sixteen canvases need the 5,000 square feet specially rented for the show. The canvases sized up to 6' X 8' gleam with vast colour fields in bright orange, saffron yellow, and blue; each also boldly display liquid turbulences of visceral figuration, swirling motion of energetic parts of human figures and creatures. There is an intense drama of allegory, mystery and personal story telling in this work, which is brilliantly positioned relevant to painting, within the flow of art history.

Rostov-on-Don 72"x84", 2009

Dmitri tells us that most of his paintings have a narrative based on events that have happened to him or other people. He stopped using actual imagery as he found it limiting, but rather relies on a skilled development of inspirational memory. The story behind the painting Rostov-on-Don involves Dmitri's stepgrandfather, who was found beaten and hanged in a park in Rostov-on-Don, Dmitri's home town in Russia.

As he is painting, he figures out the composition in his head and creates five or six paintings on one canvas. The first layer, which is the most important, using two pigments such as black and orange, can take 2 to 4 hours and is where the figurative work comes in; the consecutive layers are usually watered down paint, applied over and over again creating many layers. With his previous work, it was about using a drawing technique and erasing and molding out of paint, lately the technique has become using his hand and rag circumscribing the subject matter; trying to feel the figure through his hand, for example bringing an intuitive awareness of the character's arm or ribcage, likened to sculpture on a flat surface.

Girl looking for her glasses after being hit by a van, (Windstar) 60"x72", 2009

Dmitri relates the story behind Girl Looking for Her Glasses, "I was waiting for the light to turn green and two girls in front of me decided to try and make the yellow light; it was a really busy intersection, one of them didn't make it; and this happened within ten feet of me. One of the girls flew twenty feet in front of all these people and was in quite bad shape and she kept crawling around asking for her glasses."

Pieta No2, 108"x72", 2009


Excavation 72"x96", 2009

Dmitri explains, "this is a pretty basic battle scene with horses and people jostling against each other. It is painted in two colours, bluish-grey and orange." After the painting was completed it reminded him of de Kooning's painting Excavation.

Self portrait with red birth mark on face, 72"x84", 2009

When Dmitri Fedosseev was 7 years old, he lived at the renowed Moscow Circus, where his mother was a performer. When the Soviet Union broke apart, his mother was finally able to leave the country and they travelled extensively to eastern Europe and North America, staying in Canada when Dmitri was 15.

In his classes at Ontario College of Art and Design and up until graduating Dmitri worked in drawing. His main tuteledge came from Richard Robertson (who studied under Eric Freifeld); he would spend six to twelve hours per week drawing. His other mentor at OCAD was John Scott, who would ask him to delve into his innermost self to answer questions about why he was doing his artwork. Only after OCAD did Dmitri start to apply oil paint. He saw Jules Olitski using a leaf blower, in a video by Matthew Collings, and subsequently tried it with his own work. He cites Mark Rothko as another influence, whose work he viewed by chance while attending a Francis Bacon show. Rostov-on-Don was the first painting where he felt that the leaf blower technique really worked. He gets the professional gleam to his canvases by first applying 5 to 6 layers of gesso and then wet sanding before the picture is started.

Figure with legs, 84"x60", 2008

Mark Zadorozny met Dmitri Fedosseev in his thesis year in 2007, while looking for talented artists to work with for a future show. At that time Dmitri was creating large charcoal drawings which Mark found very impressive. That year Zadorozny's gallery the Mark Christopher Gallery had a group show and included Dmitri. As the years progressed, Mark thought it would be a good idea to have a solo of Fedosseev's paintings and spoke with him about the idea. It took some time to find a space big enough, as Zadorozny's smaller gallery space wouldn't work. While searching Mark found a 'for lease' sign on Spin Gallery which is now Twist. The show running in association with Twist is on to March 20th. Contact 416-705-3052 for pricing and alternate viewing.




Exhibition Hours: Tuesday to Friday from 10am to 5pm; On Saturday and Sunday from 11am to 6pm