Yuri Sobolev (1928-2002)
Yuri and I met when he was already approaching the end of his life. He had spent it as an underground artist in communist Russia and only as the Gorbachev era began could he exhibit his work freely. He came to Switzerland almost every summer during the last years of his life and we often sat outside and talked about our artistic problems.
From him I have inherited the concept of kitsch and how it is in large doses fatal but in micro-measures can have a salubrious effect, especially on a work that is in danger of becoming too heavy, or too heady. His picture of Don Giovanni is a good example of how he put this micro-kitsch into practice: The two mythical copulating figures placed on a very formal cross shape (also of copulating figures) works much too formal for a figure who was (for Yuri) a tragic sensualist, someone to be pitied but also to be amused by. The teddy bear figures, although also placed formally, are quite ridiculous and definitely kitschy and so supply the necessary levity in the composition and save the work from excessive seriousness.
Works inspired by Yuri include: