Rape of Proserpina
59,06 x 43,31 in
150,0 x 110,0 cm
…Discrete, irregular areas of varying color and tone defined by dark borders create chromatic islands, an archipelago forming figures emerging from the darkness into the bright, Caravaggesque light. As noted above, this technique is inspired by stained glass windows where each section of colored glass is fitted with a lead collar then fused with others to create a luminous, multi-figured composition. In appropriating elements of Old Master compositions Mikhaylov extracts them from their original context and relocates them in the present. Merging religious themes with a mode of representation referring to stained glass suggests the observer occupies a special space, a spiritual space similar to the interior of a chapel, an effect enhancing the painting’s aura and meaning.
…The Massacre of the Innocents is based on Guido Reni’s painting of the same subject. Mikhaylov has removed from the center of the composition the mother with a dead baby at her feet looking imploringly heavenward and added a shouting, young, modern woman with a taped fist. The girl delivers a powerful right cross to a man’s face, the force of her punch catapulting his head backward blood spewing from his mouth. Is this a comment on the tumultuous nature of male/female relationships set within the context of the New Testament narrative, the massacre of a modern innocent, a turning of the tables on an abusive man? The mother has been substituted with a crouching Soviet soldier cradling his machine gun (the same soldier seen in I Never Talk to Strangers) as he looks sadly at the dead, bleeding baby – a contemporary counterpoint to the ruthless assassins doing King Herod’s bloody bidding. We are bounced backward and forward in time as we try to untangle the story and its multiple meanings.
Dr. Michael P. Mezzatesta