Alexander Sidorov. From the catalogue. 1998

Gouaches collected in this album give the most complete notion of the art of Dmitry Ikonnikov in the 90-ties. 

The way to these works was not easy. Out of principle the artist gave up the work on unique and printed posters, which took seven years of his life, therefore denying publicism and hot issues of the day as objects of art. He also stops illustrating books, being frustrated by polygraphic limitations in this field and by inevitable gap between author's original and final printing production.

The initial works, which fulfilled Ikonnikov's urge to reveal his artistic self, where the series «Life beyond the Polar circle* (1990), «From the history of Russian State» and the piece «A man with a goat» (1992).

The first series presents a sort of a cycle of easel illustrations, but now not of somebody's life, e.g. important events in the country or the books of renown writers, but of the artist's singular and unique life, weaved of his immediate perceptions and observations. However, before he finally supplanted all commonly known and widely recognized by his self-suffered and personally important, the artist reflects on the crucial questions: «Who are we ? Where are we from? and Where do we go?» and gives his artistic and philosophical answer. In the series «From the history of Russian State», his only «multi-aged» panorama, the artistic possibilities of his beloved gouache stand the test of «big national theme*. Gouache has proved itself to be sufficient for expression of the most grandiose and sophisticated ideas. However, soon his subjects dramatically change their spatial and temporal address. They turn from epochal collisions to chamber media of private being, which appeared to be inexhaustible for this artist. Now he is not commissioned by outside motives or parties, but by his inner self only. By his own admission, the starting point of his eternal journey inside his own life is a canvas «A man with a goat». It is really a canvas, taking into account a deliberate accent on coloristic and painting properties of gouache and also a launch into the other, or more precisely into his own, life to the family hearth, under the roof of his home, into the circle of close friends and intimate feelings. There, following the owner of the goat, some of his old and all his new heroes have flown.

They gave birth to new series such as «Russian provincial life», «Games of adult people», «City. Back entrance», «Place known to everybody» and similar others. Similar, most of all, because they belong to the same world, the world of the artist and his soul existence. In artistic evolution of D. Ikonnikov in the last decade of the XX century «the historical mosaic» of the Russian life is like a mighty outburst of energy, accumulated and concentrated by the year 1990, the energy, both emotional, imaginative, philosophic and thematic. However, what he created, was not a chaos, but an integral artistic Universe, having an inner order, which incorporates both single pieces and multiple series of gouaches, that explore narrative width as well as spiritual depth of the Creation.

The artist's style and language are always very distinct and unmistakably recognizable and original. However, each series has its specific poetics and emotional intonation. In some of them the dominating theme is reality of Russian countryside, or more precisely, its folklore bases. These works bear some reflections of rebellious spirit of his historical pieces of the 1990-ties, although directed into a peaceful watercourse of everyday flow of collective consciousness, of ancestral elements, where mass prevails upon a person, types upon portraits, where dreadful merriment of bloody riotous crowds is transformed into the bender of corky accordionist, who travels from one list of series to another.

Even more cloistered and intimate are other pictures showing the close surroundings of the artist, his small circle, where his family members, cats and his belongings, like pipes, ash trays and sewing sets, are the heroes. Their life is communal and at the same time unique, which never fails to draw the artist's attention, compassion, comprehension and inspiration. It dictates the complex synthetic genre structure of each series and each work, where still life is inseparably joint with interior («Stil life on a post», «Still life with» precious «things), with genre sketch («Needlewoman and a cat»,«There lived a cat», «Sitting») or with city landscape, intruding into the open windows («White city», «Still life in interior*). It is difficult to name another artist, who has devoted himself completely to gouache, bringing it to the Olympus of big Art and making it to implement the most diverse and previously unknown to this technique creative ideas, the most subtle feelings, elusive motions of heart and mind.

He deliberately avoids literary narrative props, freeing artistic material of its applied, purely technical or illustrative functions and giving it the ever increasing freedom of language, the right for star roles, the right for esthetic self-importance.

Gouache pumps a dramatic pressure in plotless and bodyless still life compositions («White bouquet on a black «bookstand», 1997) or «fatigues» them by the sun, pierces them with the joy of life melody, using entirely personal means: contrasts of light and dark, texture comparisons, plastic and color concentrations and depressions. Gouache is also a central hero of the artist's works. It comes to the fore in all glamour and richness, bringing forth a full parade of dim, subdued and glittering platitudes, spots, dynamics dashes and strokes. It reveals in every line and dot the notional and emotional charge, which can be compared only to a strength of poetic metaphor and symbol. Due to expressive advantages of gouache, colorful pictures of close home circle grow into pictures of Creation, genre sketches into extended scenic performances, whose actors are elements, masses and media of artistic matter, form-building substance. The artist combines classical clarity and sharp originality of artistic language of XX century. However, his works are also mysterious, they reveal the intimacy of creative process, where perfection is not accomplished by final and scrupulously detailed completeness and clear constructivity, where stylistic precision of imaginative phrase differ from literal, all-comprehensible and easily accessible interpretation. 

Ikonnikov's gouaches, as well as any true Art, are aesthetically and spiritually inexhaustible for a spectator with any sensitivity to the Beautiful. A spectator, who immerses in the depth of the artistic world created by the master and becomes an eternal wanderer on its endless roads, forgetting the nine day's wonders of current reality and even personal problems. 

Alexander Sidorov