The exhibition of Yakov Stepanov shows a new interpretation of modern icon-painting. He strives to give people an opportunity to perceive this kind of art not as a traditional one, but as a new attempt to put all the feelings, mind and all human nature on the track of transfiguration. Through his paintings he seeks for creation, cultural and spiritual development of personality.
Stepanov's paintings aim to demonstrate the fundamental principles that seem destroyed to the viewer. We live in a postmodern culture where there are no clear moral guidelines, top and bottom are inverted, right and left are jumbled, truth and lies are mixed up, beauty and ugliness may be equally attractive, and there are no generally accepted leaders and consistent criteria. Therefore, the artist turns to coherent images to convey the good and eternal. The only question is whether a modern viewer is able to recognize these images, to understand these messages? You can find the answer to this question if you visit the exhibition.
The exhibited works not only reflect the aesthetic sense of the artist, but also show an image of the world where truth and beauty coincide. All these determine the style and nature of the paintings, the content and depth of the images.
Quite a lot depends on the technical skills of the artist. According to the iconographic canons, the first color introducing the image should be the darkest, and human figures should be shaped with white. White color, a symbol of grace and unearthly light, should breathe life into an impersonal material form, lighten and elevate it, filling it with spiritual energy. However, Stepanov breaks from the tradition and paints with light color first, creating then volume with shadows, as though materializing the images and making them more mundane and real. So his images become closer to us, and the questions he brings up through them become more understandable.
Stepanov also attaches great significance to the colors, which help to create convincing images, penetrating into the depths of the soul. If he used modern commercial paints, it would be impossible for him to achieve the depth of color, transparency and luminosity of the picturesque texture, which fill his paintings with a peculiar warm and soft glow. That is why he prepares paints himself, like people did in ancient times, mixing egg emulsion with manually grinded natural minerals, such as lazurite, azurite, malachite, cinnabar, vivianite, various ochres, etc.
An important role is also allocated not just to the form, but also to the system of symbols that help to speak about the ineffable. Being aware of the era and cultural environment where the visual images emerged, the viewer will easily plumb the mystery of the paintings.