I’ve been living in Greece for more than eight years; I think my inner soul-searching brought me here. I feel in sync with the energy of this country and its people. These lands breathe history and I believe that I share a deep connection with this place, going back to a very distant past.
As a firm believer in reincarnation, have this feeling that I lived here before. I have brief memories from the ancient times. While living here, I have been able to determine the time period. I remembered a tsunami which, according to historical archives, happened around 1500 AD following the Minoan Eruption eruption of the Santorini volcano on the island of Thira — it’s assumed to have been what led to the destruction of the Minoan civilization.
I haven’t, I just happen to have memories of it — my recollation is of a day which felt like a national celebration; people festively walking around the streets filled with merchants. I believe I lived a happy life as a musician. These vague memories of being once happy here are what brought me to Greece from Switzerland, country that was a big part of my childhood and adolescence. While completing my business studies in Switzerland, deep inside I always knew that I was going to pursue art as a career and lifestyle. Eventually, my search brought me to Greece.
“Painting, in some way, stitched together what had been torn in me: it unified my inner being, it became the coming together of all the pieces of my experience, of my identity.”
The artist Petr Shevchenko’s body of work comprises a dynamic expression of the ineffable dimensions of existence. In the belief that there is “no such thing as empty space,” he endeavors to manifest the invisible essence of life, the energy that flows among earthly and otherworldly beings. The ecstasy of emptiness lies in the virtual lack of emptiness, the impossibility of the void and the power of our imagination to grasp what is beyond the perceptual capabilities of our physical senses. The line between reality and imagination is tenuous, and the concretization of thought is what has constructed and shaped our terrestrial landscape, while the spirit remains elusive to our reach. The practice of visualizing how we see the world with all of our senses gives eminence to our presence as an integral part of the whole and provides empowerment for transformation. Who is to say what is real and what is not? Belief is the important element. As artist David Hammons has said, “To be invisible is more powerful than being visible.”
The paintings of Shevchenko’s “Reflection” series (2017), all rendered in acrylics on canvas, allude to how our emotional states determine the meanings of what we see through images that recall the Rorschach Test, employed to tease out personal perceptions reflecting psychological conditions. Unlike the ten inkblots, Shevchenko’s vividly colored diptychs are not symmetrical — they are both more inchoate and chaotic — and as such more realistic reflections of living things. These psychedelic abstractions trigger our instinctive tendency to impose order, to define what we are looking at, while the tongue-in-cheek titles of the artworks question the efficacy of such a diagnostic device as a reflection of raw, isolated psychological states.
Space is never empty in Peter Shevchenko’s art. His work depicts a universe in which the air itself teems with intangible forces, pulsating with entities that lie beyond the limits of ordinary human perception. Fittingly, the word “space” holds a double meaning: it invokes at once the plane of the image, with its painterly arrangements of colour, texture, and form; and another, more nebulous space that his images represent. Both spaces — his art, the world it offers access to — are alive with energy. Space is never empty, but nor is it still. It is constantly teeming, crackling, flowing, fluxing.
Although Shevchenko works in installation and photography, his primary medium is painting. Over the course of his career to date, he has developed a visual language marked by breadth, flexibility, and an intuitive approach to his chosen materials. Combining striking use of colour with expressive abstraction and an interest in the mesmeric possibilities of pattern-making, his paintings feel driven by a need to figure out a visual language capable of capturing non-visual phenomena. The result is a highly vivid, if abstracted, world marked by motion and change, and influenced at a conceptual level by a system of beliefs incorporating metaphysical speculation, esotericism, occultism, and mysticism.
Reflecting the artist’s interest in the hidden energies that flow through our world, a number of his most striking works are abstract. Variously resembling Rorschach tests, dream-visions, and pulses of electricity — yet never quite reducible to any single visual comparison — these paintings have a mesmerising effect on the viewer. Lost in the Dream (2018), for example, balances contrasting colours (yellow and purple, orange and blue) in gestural, rippling lines to conjure a sense of fluid reverie. Others are filled with darker, more ominous imagery. Reflection Series II Extremes (2017), for example, is a brooding, monochromatic flock of black-and-white smudges like birds streaming across a pitch-dark night. Others still evoke a contrasting sense of playfulness and spontaneity — his ongoing photography series of beach stones stacked in temporary towers spring to mind. Despite the diversity of their form, material, content, and mood, all of Shevchenko’s works are united by an attention — and perhaps a kind of devotion to — spirituality.
Petr Shevchenko. 2019