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Shadow of a Non Existent House, 1995-2005

Oil on Canvas

One of the few Uzbekistani artists known outside his country, Vyacheslav-Yura Useinov is a man of many talents. Trained as a stone carver, he creates large installations, objects, paintings, works on paper, as well as writes poetry and philosophical texts. Shadow of a Non-Existent House is one of his most remarkable works and deserves careful study. Using an extremely complex technique that he refers to as fractal realism, Useinov painted this work over a span of eleven years, reconstructing from memory the view of a courtyard that is no longer there.


The courtyard was part of the house of the artist’s close friend, who had emigrated to Canada. For Useinov, his friend’s move and the destruction of the house that followed were symbolic: a tragic symptom of a time when a rare and important building in the so-called colonial style could be destroyed without respect for history and a metaphor for the loss of the common home that was the Soviet Union. The house, which was located in the Fergana region of Uzbekistan, was demolished during the making of the work, turning the reality that had once existed into a dream that became more difficult to recollect with every passing day.


Expending the kind of effort that has to do with concentration on a fleeting image, Useinov began an experiment in what he called “personal madness”. How else can one describe a manic desire to “keep the heat of a July afternoon before one’s eyes for eleven years, all the while juxtaposing the metaphor of a lost house with the collapse of the Soviet Union, which traumatised an entire generation?”


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