• artwork on display

      Close up of Theater of Memory

      An art show that is both unusual, and absolutely enchanting, opened on Friday 7/22 at MorYork Gallery in Highland Park.

      By Toti O’Brien

      The exhibit is titled “Theater of Memory, In Memory of the Theater,” and features the work of two women artists, L.A. based Yulia Dukhovny and Pasadena resident Olesya Volk.

      Those familiar with MorYork Gallery, the creative den of artist/collector Clare Graham, know that the space itself is a wunderkammer filled with awesome intricacies. The new show seems to sprout from Moryork’s very womb, as if it belonged to the same dream, the same stream of consciousness. The eye pleasantly shifts from Graham’s giant sculptures to the tiny treasures by Dukhovny and Volk.

      Both artists create toy theaters, and a number of these miniatures are in display, together with a variety of other artifacts: paintings, drawings, collages, photos, videos, dioramas, books, puppets, marionettes. Therefore, media are very diverse, although paper dominates, emanating an overall delicate, dainty, ethereal feeling. Also, magical.

      two colorful shadows of women

      Theater of Memory In Memory of Theater

      The two artists’ distinctive styles harmonize, while being almost opposite.
      Volk says: “In my paper dioramas, I emphasize the very texture of paper, its flexibility and its “memory” of being once a growing tree…” Her display includes oil paintings on wood, watercolors, ink drawings, a wide gamut of mini-stages out of cardboard boxes, filled with paper characters and decors, pages of her illustrated books, her books, and much more. Stories spill from every corner. They overlap, loop around themselves. The small stages function as springboards for the books, exploring the same narratives in a different form. Though they are deeply rooted within folk traditions, nature, and the sacred, Volk’s stories belong to the present. They touch vital chords, diving into themes of diversity and normalcy, solitude and connections. All, though, is permeated with humor, lightness, and inexhaustible fantasy. Visual and written artifacts share an organic flow. Lines are sinuous, laced, hieroglyphic, labyrinthine. Shapes embrace, lock, overlap. All is constantly growing, or else metamorphosing.

      Dukhovny scale and palette are similar to Volk’s (for both, black and white are dominant) but hers is a poetic of the spare. Her composition is so very essential—almost brushing minimalism, and yet absolutely exquisite. She is a master of the negative space, within which the few elements she sagaciously stages burst with meaning and expressiveness. Absence and erasure say as much as presence does. The story is told by what we see, what we fleetingly glance at, and what we don’t see, but we are made to recreate in our mind. Dukhovny’s artwork is visual, performative, and interactive. Her small theaters are animated during workshops and shows. Sometimes, they evolve into larger works, involving live theater and music. Her display at Moryork includes striking visuals, mixing collage, photo, and drawing – usually black and white, with a single touch of bright color—videos of performance, a sample of complete toy theater— horizontally spread, like an ancient scroll—and much more.

      Theater of Memory
      By appointment until August 13
      4959 York Blvd.
      Highland Park, CA 90042
      A performance by Duknovny will take place in the afternoon on closing day.

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