In the 20th century rest is simply essential; people are harassed, exhausted and trying to do everything quickly. As such, art often gives us an opportunity for respite. […] My works are not overloaded with details; the detail is never large. [...] We immediately see the essence and that essence conveys a sense of relaxation.
Timur Novikov, 1995
Timur Novikov was not simply an artist but also a publicist, art theorist, curator and teacher who occupied a key role in the development of contemporary culture in Russia at the end of the 20th century. His contribution to the 1980s/1990s art scene varied from establishing art societies and curating exhibitions to introducing cutting edge western music and culture to Russia. In 1989 he founded the New Academy of Fine Arts in St Petersburg (Leningrad), which quickly became a critical meeting point for Russian and international art world figures; Andy Warhol (1928-1987), John Cage (1912-1992) and Robert Rauschenberg (1925-2008) were all members. As its leader, Novikov extolled the virtues of Academism to oppose Conceptualism by promoting the values of Classical art. His teaching staff excelled in the traditional disciplines but also in digital media and video art, novelties which the New Academy introduced to the contemporary Russian art scene.
Growing up in St Petersburg with a mother who worked as a technician at the Russian Museum, Novikov also derived inspiration from the Neoclassicist architecture of this remarkable city. Influenced by the Avant-Garde he developed an expressive style as a painter at the start of his career. In the late 1980s and 1990s his focus turned to aestheticism through classically based concepts. He created a new art form by applying minimalistic stencils or multimedia collage to the centre of textile backdrops (the latter illustrated by lots 84 and 85). Novikov showcased his work in America, folding and hiding his creations in a suitcase long before the fall of the Iron Curtain. Through textiles bought at markets, which he imbued with a symbolism reminiscent of votive banners, Novikov strove to create beauty wherever it was absent.