I MET WITH DIMA in his studio in Moscow, Russia. He is a sleek man, dressed head to toe in black, with a New York accent.
Dima has spent most of his day with a crew filming an educational video about his work and creative processes. I get the impression we are a welcome distraction for Dima, not so for the film crew who have to stop him from talking to me every few minutes!
Dima is an abstract minimal artist. “Currently I'm involved within the geometric, abstract field of visual art, in its minimalist forms,” Dima said.
When Dima finished art school in Moscow 20 years ago, he was frustrated by restrictions within the art scene of Soviet Russia, particularly within his style. He moved to New York to expand and explore his art education and did this by immersing himself in the city’s art world and its people.
“Progress towards total minimal abstract perception was a slow, evolving process of work and study, mainly in New York.”
To support his art while in New York, Dima worked as a textile designer. This is a career path shared with his mother, who worked in fashion design. Dima’s father is a painter.
Dima refers to himself as an emerging artist, but in truth, his work has been in constant demand since his return to Moscow four years ago.
“In mid-winter, 2012, I was asked to create a public art project for the lobby area of CHA (Central House of Artist) in Moscow. A total of 330 square metres was available to mount a disposable installation wall-floor painting. Due to existing floor conditions (stone tiles and historic heritage), it ruled out the possibility of painting the design with conventional materials. Instead we reverted to vinyl film, which could be easily removed, thus leaving the original lobby area design intact.”
Dima both learns from and mentors within his extensive network of Russian and international artists. His minimalist style is still uncommon for Moscow, and he says only a small few really understand it. I also met with his younger and occasional collaborator, Dmitry Teselkin. Together they form a unique partnership for Russia – most established local Russian artists are working on artworks that are more literal rather than their abstract and minimal style.
Dima’s energy is catchy; he is nice to be around. This is probably a reason why his high-ceiling minimal space is the host to many a party. His wife also shares his space and has a little desk set up in the corner. The studio is now also his home and Dima sleeps where he creates. Dima said Moscow winters are not pleasant and it is a useful thing to not need to leave home to work. Dima’s first winter back in Moscow was a shock with the temperature dropping below -20 degrees Celsius.
Suspension ropes are bolted to the ceiling of Dima’s studio. His wife, an artchitecture student, and other friends are into suspension and while it isn’t something he is interested in doing himself, he is happy to oblige their interest.
Dima connects with other artists from around the world via Facebook. He finds it a great way to communicate, blog about other work he likes and share his own. Facebook is a common tool used by Moscow artists; rather then have a website or another type of blog, they often use Facebook’s template instead.
Facebook though, is only one of many sources and outlets for Dima, as he notes: “Moscow is a big place where something is always going on, places and people, contemporary activities as far as an inspiration goes.”
No city is without its flaws though. “For a city of more than 10 million people, it is lacking a sufficient number of modern and sizable white cube exhibition spaces and galleries. I can't recall that I know of any gallery dealing exclusively with abstract contemporary.
“I would like to see more cultural integration, exchange of ideas, merging with the latest achievements by the art world superstructure."