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Sculptures 1983-1990


‘The whole line sculpture is linked into one unity, like the invisible trace of a bird which flies from the nest for food, but always returns’.
The Evolution of My Work, Oleg Prokofiev

A desire for artistic synthesis between painting and sculpture led Prokofiev to produce a whole series of works following the single line in loops and tangles, penetrating the space and reshaping it. These works are a continuation of themes already touched on by his post-impressionist work; form versus formlessness; the dynamics of creation and becoming, a simultaneous embodiment of order and chaos; an oscillation between complication and the need to destroy it.

Notebooks full of labyrinthine doodles show Prokofiev’s endless journeys across the paper, attempting to pin down his ideas. Spiking, curly, twisted lines end up in claws and eyes; there are glimpses of piano keys and harp strings in the centre of the hectic swarms. He considered his drawings to be only hints, the first step towards discovering the line ‘in flesh’. These sketches have the fascinating quality of artist’s daydreams, as he follows after Paul Klee taking his line for a walk.

Detailed studies fifteen years previously into Ancient Indian art had also affected Prokofiev with the concept of the plastic arts being a continuation of nature. This idea prompted his return to the simple use of wood rather than found objects. The chance element was now made redundant as Prokofiev learned to use a jigsaw to shape the material. He called the completion of an idea ‘locking the circuit’ as the line would always return to its starting point, just as a melody repeats itself.

Later on, as more and more sculptures were created, his studio resembled an installation. He arranged these creations in heaps and in stiff lines like soldiers, hanging some from the ceiling, creating giant towers from the floor. He referred to them as ‘coloured line in space’ hanging them across walls like abstracts come alive to the touch. The finished pieces are like solid music, energetic and original, like weird insects wonkily perched on twigs; your eye wanders along painted paths and is met with a little green cog for an earring or finely written gold poetry. Wearing bright plumes of reds and blues, these works sit around like oddly angled birds of paradise.

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