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      (E-E) Evgenij Kozlov: Leningrad 80s >>

The New Artists.

Timur Novikov: Roots – E-E Kozlov: Cosmos

Text: Hannelore Fobo, 2020

Chapter 3. E-E Kozlov: Two Cosmic Systems

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(E-E) Evgenij Kozlov Две КосмическиЕЕ Системы. • Two Cosmic Systems Felt pen on paper, 31 x 21 cm, 1991, front page.


(E-E) Evgenij Kozlov
Две КосмическиЕЕ Системы. • Two Cosmic Systems
Felt pen on paper, 31 x 21 cm, 1991, front page. Reverse page see below.
A transcript of the Russian text is availabe here >>, and a translation of both pages is available here >>




Chapter 3 E-E-Kozlov: Two Cosmic Systems

For my analysis of the New Artists’ native roots, Kozlov’s works from the 1980s play a central role: stylistically and technically, Kozlov was the most versatile New artist. In the eyes of foreign curators, he was also the newest among the New Artists: when the group went international in 1988, two of his works were chosen to represent the group as a whole [1]. These works, Timur on Horseback from 1985 and Star from 1987, represent completely different stylistic approaches. The first is a portrait on jute sacking, while the second is an abstract motif carried out in a constructivist style.

Left: Catalogue of the exhibtion DE NYA FRÅN LENINGRAD • The New from Leningrad • Aug 27 - Sept 25, 1988, Kulturhuset, Stockholm. On the cover is (E-E) Evgenij Kozlov's work Timur on Horseback from 1985
Right: Festival poster Perestroika in the Avant-Garde, Bluecaot Gallery, Liverpool, 1989. The image is a reproduction of Kozlov's work Star from 1987.




At the same time, Kozlov’s works complicate the attribution of a unifying term to the group’s creative practise. His work represent, as it were, a dissenting opinion, for example with regard to “wildness”, a term Novikov used in his New Artists text from 1986, linking wildness to tradition: “One fundamental tendency – ‘wildness’ – had already found vivid expression, in the mid-seventies, in the work of Boris Koshelokhov.”[2] While “vivid expression” might somehow apply to Kozlov’s works, “wildness” does so hardly. I will look at this question in Chapter 7, “Beyond the trend: Kozlov’s Portrait of Timur Novikov (1988)”.

Novikov was fully aware of Kozlov’s specific role among his fellow artists and called him a “recognised master with his own distinct profile” [3]. According to Ekaterina Andreeva’s, Timur Novikov “departed from ‘wildness’ under the influence of Kozlov’s strict style”.[4]

Kozlov‘s independent position notwithstanding, his works of the 1980s are related to his fellow artists more than the works of any other New artist – through his multifigure compositions, his photo collages and portraits; using pictures from his photo sessions with the band KINO and the New Composers, Kozlov created record sleeves for these bands. This aspect of his works, together with their novel features, qualified them to represent the New Artists at two major retrospective exhibitions on “Art and Alternative Music in Eastern Europe 1968–1994“, the subtitle of Notes from the Underground at the Muzeum Sztuki, Lodz, 2016 and the Akademie der Künste (Academy of Arts), Berlin, 2018.

(E-E) Evgenij Kozlov at the exhibition Notes from the Underground Art and Alternative Music in Eastern Europe 1968–1994. Akademie der Künste, Berlin , 2018 more >> On the wall: (E-E) Evgenij Kozlov KINO (dedicated to the band "Kino") Collage and photography on paper, 80 x 225cm, 1985. The Muzeum Sztuki Collection, Lodz. more >> In the foreground: Timur Novikov, Ivan Sotnikov: Утюгон • Utiugon Musical instrument made from a table, flatirons and pickups. 1982 / 2014, Collection of Anya Stonelake Photo: H. K., 2016
(E-E) Evgenij Kozlov at the exhibition Notes from the Underground
Art and Alternative Music in Eastern Europe 1968–1994
. Akademie der Künste, Berlin , 2018 more >>
On the wall: (E-E) Evgenij Kozlov KINO (dedicated to the band "Kino")
Collage and photography on paper, 80 x 225cm, 1985. The Muzeum Sztuki Collection, Lodz. more >>
In the foreground: Timur Novikov, Ivan Sotnikov: Утюгон • Utiugon Musical instrument made from a table, flatirons and pickups. 1982 / 2014, Collection of Anya Stonelake
Photo: H. K., 2016



Besides, without Kozlov’s active engagement, many New Artists activities would have gone unnoticed, especially in the period crucial for the consolidation of the group, the years from 1984 to 1986. This goes for the performances “The Ballet of the Three Inseparable One” and “Anna Karenina”, but Kozlov also incited his fellow artists and musicians to perform for his camera, for instance with a “Fashion Show”.

We may say that regarding the New Artists, Evgenij Kozlov was an outsider and an insider at the same time, last but not least because his native roots extended geographically and artistically from Leningrad where he was born and grew up, to Peterhof, where he lived. Peterhof – Petrodvorets from 1944 to 1997 – the famous the summer residence of the Russian Tsars with its unique cultural heritage is in the outskirts of Leningrad, and this is why Kozlov was not part of those interminable daily encounters of Novikov, Sotnikov, Kotelnikov, Bugaev, Krisanov, Gutsevich and many others, of their hanging around with each other in their Leningrad flats or cafés. Kozlov has always insisted that the quietness of Peterhof, the harmony of its architecture and nature, helped him to carry out his artistic ideas in a concentrated and systematic way. Chapter 10 features some aspects of his life in Peterhof.

A passage from Kozlov’s diary from January 1982 (Diary III, pages six to ten) illustrates the artist’s experience of what he called “the objective nature of my being in the creative process”:

    The creative process can be compared to meditation. It is not a process of reflecting or of seeking for the best combination of colour and form. All this must have occurred before the artist connects with the canvas – in his head and simultaneously in the space around him. The work itself is like the apparent [seeming] awareness of a connection with the outside world, or, more exactly – with its spiritual component. When I’m holding a brush loaded with paint and the clean surface of canvas is approaching me, I’m turning into this very material.
    During this moment, man is no more than a means, a kind of “receiver” who – having collected all the necessary elements for the possibility of spiritually dissolving his mind into cosmos – has become part of this infinite space.

    Creating is this strange process when my hands and thoughts are moving – a transmitter of our indissoluble unity [with cosmos]. From the point of view of human understanding, the brain‘s mass Is pure [clean] with regard to its need for the birth of whatever thoughts, yet it is infinitely filled with the sensation of life and space surrounding me; this is pure feeling, a feeling not striving to be expressed by words. Here, such words as objectivity and subjectivity do not exist — they appear only later in the eyes and ears of the viewer.
    […]
    (E-E) Evgenij Kozlov  Diary III, pages eight and nine, January 1982
    (E-E) Evgenij Kozlov
    Diary III, pages eight and nine, January 1982
    See all pages >>


    A person / a viewer is subjective, but this is part of objectivity as a whole. What I‘m doing is not [the result of] subjective thought – it is an objective view dictated by the objective nature of my being in the creative process. It is a view “not from within”, it is s view “from the outside”. It is what connects man to life, space, time, universe, cosmos, eternity; his search for his ideals, dreams, love, the process of merging and birth, of the perpetual and natural – this is what objectivity has always been and will always be, independently of humans themselves.

    […] natural as the course of life itself. In the moment of creation I’m turning into this process. Whatever people think, no matter how creation is assessed – this is only subjective and plays no role at all…[5]

Being “in” the creative process results in a view “from the outside”, of being part of cosmos, “this infinite space” – which in turn leads to a strong perception of objectivity.

It is no coincidence that Kozlov called his Peterhof flat “Galaxy Gallery”. His universal approach to art included not only an understanding of the laws of earth, but also a view from the cosmos. Interestingly, if Galaxy Gallery represented cosmos, then Kozlov’s Leningrad studio (1989-1991) represented earth: Russkoee Polee – “The Russian Field”. That is where he wrote down his theory called “Two Cosmic Systems”.

    I. III. 1991 “Russkoee Polee®” Leningrad

    Two Cosmic Systems.

    Cosmic System I: The Cosmos in the creator’s personality.

    The First System of the Created Order proposes a view and understanding of art – of how it is admired and enjoyed, its focus and development – according to the laws of the Earth.

    Cosmic System II = Cosmic System XII:   –The Cosmos around.

    System XII implies a view of creation as a whole from the Cosmos, as if the artist had been born in space and had completed their complete path of development and formation solely in it.

    Though it is possible to think in such terms, the only way to follow how it develops is via one’s feelings, whereby desire and inspiration lead to a natural merging of the two systems.

    According to the theory of Two Cosmic Systems, the artist expands the sphere of his or her creation towards Infinity.

    The view out of the Cosmic space is equal and similar to the view from Earth into it. This is the natural process of the development of art. Everything and everyone goes through it. Some individuals are able to feel in harmony with this system and to create works of art, which ultimately brings humanity closer to the Cosmos and makes the entrance of art into the Cosmic space, i.e., into Infinity, spiritual and fruitful.

    E. Kozlov 91 [6]

(E-E) Evgenij Kozlov Две КосмическиЕЕ Системы. • Two Cosmic Systems Felt pen on paper, 31 x 21 cm, 1991, reverse.
(E-E) Evgenij Kozlov
Две КосмическиЕЕ Системы. • Two Cosmic Systems
Felt pen on paper, 31 x 21 cm, 1991, reverse. Front page see top of page.
A transcript of the Russian text is availabe here >>, and a translation of both pages is available here >>



Half a year later, in October 1991, the artist laid out his concept to me in a talk about “The Art of the Future”[7], but also with several illustrated texts schemes visualising an artist’s connection to cosmos. These descriptions vary and explicate the concept of two merging views: of an imagined – “as if” – view from the cosmos merging with a view from the earth.

(E-E) Evgenij Kozlov  Fragment (5 x 4 cm) of a scheme with a tree symboiising the connection of "all beings living on earth" to the earth (the roots) and of their striving to the cosmos (the crown). The tree bark symbolises art – the product visible to the viewer. The earth itself is also considered as a living organism. Ball pen on paper, 29.7 x 21 cm, 1981
(E-E) Evgenij Kozlov
Fragment (5 x 4 cm) of a scheme with a tree symboiising the connection of "all beings living on earth" to the earth (the roots) and of their striving to the cosmos (the crown). The tree bark symbolises art – the product visible to the viewer. The earth itself is also considered as a living organism.
Ball pen on paper, 29.7 x 21 cm, 1981



One of these schemes, “the connection to the cosmos (as a perception)” exemplifies the view from below with help of a tree: its roots constitute the link with the earth, the bark constitutes art (as a product) visible to the viewer, and the crown constitutes a striving for growth towards the cosmos. This scheme actually concerns "all beings living on earth", but also the earth itself. In the context of this article, this scheme is interesting insofar as it explicitly refers to “roots”, but it does so considering earth in its entirety, as a living organism, and not as a piece of land  defined by national boundaries.

Should we regard Kozlov’s theory of Two Cosmic Systems as a modern version of Russian Cosmism?

The answer is – yes and no. Yes, because Kozlov obviously strives for a cosmic view as a basis for his creative process, and no, because his view excludes any such concept of “anti-Westernness” as stated by George Young, quoted above “…the Cosmists are at least slightly – some of them even more than slightly – anti-Western, and in Russia, today as yesterday, this resonates.”

Kozlov’s theory of creation is anti-ideological because it synthesises two cosmic systems of creation: the first system centres around the individual, and the second is what we might call “the universal view of cosmos”, which is a tautology I use for lack of a better expression (“the universal view of universe”).

To understand Kozlov’s twofold view, the best is to look at one of his works: his painting Points of Contact from 1989, his last year in Peterhof before he moved to Leningrad. The composition, carried out with paint on jute fabric, presents a synthesis of antagonistic forces: USA and CCCP (USSR), yet not seen as political powers, that is, according to the laws of the earth, but as constituting forces of life, as seen from the cosmos, where antagonistic forces becomes complementary.

The following quote is from my lecture at Lecture at the VII St Petersburg International Cultural Forum 2018 “(E-E) Evgenij Kozlov: USA-CCCP-CHINA – Works 1980-1989 and Their Spiritual-Religious Dimensions”:


    [In this painting,] the USA and the CCCP are portrayed as a couple, a woman and a man, with the question of who represents who being left to the viewer. Each has a black dot and a red dot on their head and stomach, though in reverse. They symbolise a human being’s most important properties: the brain and the reproductive organs. These dots, or points, are the “points of contact”. They are distributed in a manner akin to a self-mirroring yin-yang symbol (the “taijitu”), representing complementary forces, such as female and male, earth and heaven. The [supplementary] graphic shows two different possibilities to display such a dual complementarity.
    The viewer intuitively joins these points together to form two diagonally-crossing lines – a cross of St Andrew – Crux Decussata, thus creating an equilibrium in the dynamic force of the two poles. [8]
Left: (E-E) Evgenij Kozlov Points of Contact, 237 x 112 cm, 1989 Centre: Two possibilities of duplicating the yin-yang symbol (taijitu). Top: the tajitu mirrored in itself and rotated around its axis. Bottom: the tajitu turned rotated around its axis Right: Saltire Saint Andrew‘s Cross / Crux decussata See: Hannelore Fobo (E-E) Evgenij Kozlov USA-CCCP-CHINA – Works 1980-1989 and Their Spiritual-Religious Dimensions Lecture at the VII St Petersburg International Cultural Forum, 16 November 2018
Left: (E-E) Evgenij Kozlov Points of Contact, 237 x 112 cm, 1989
Centre: Two possibilities of duplicating the yin-yang symbol (taijitu). Top: the tajitu mirrored in itself and rotated around its axis.
Bottom: the tajitu turned rotated around its axis
Right: Saltire
Saint Andrew‘s Cross / Crux decussata
See: Hannelore Fobo (E-E) Evgenij Kozlov USA-CCCP-CHINA – Works 1980-1989 and Their Spiritual-Religious Dimensions
Lecture at the VII St Petersburg International Cultural Forum, 16 November 2018 more >>




The composition fully exploits the potential of the medium: the jute fabric absorbed the paint in a irregular way, creating a marbled pattern of lighter and darker hues of black, white, green, and red. We may speak of a threefold synthesis: a synthesis achieved by the complementary forces created with the help of the motif, another one achieved by the complementary colours green and red, and, finally, a synthesis achieved by the sharply defined motif and the soft irregularity of the medium. A detailed analysis of the painting would add some other complementary features. Last but not least, all this integrates into a higher harmony synthesising movement and stability. The composition is vigorous and natural at the same time.

Kozlov painted the two figures of the woman and the man in a constructivist style, with a small number of intersecting geometrical forms: circles, triangles, parallelograms and trapezoids, some of the straight lines slightly rounded. The composition is reminiscent of those figures and patterns developed by Malevich, Lissitzky, Stepanova and Popova, but we might also add Rodchenko, Lebedev and Mayakovsky.

From a purely formal point of view, Point of Contacts was carried out it in the style of native traditions. Yet the artist approached the subject matter in a completely new way: he metamorphosed the relation between the two superpowers USA and CCCP and gave it a new meaning: from antagonistic to complementary, based on a view out of the Cosmic space

Questions of stylistic influences on Kozlov’s work are therefore still important, but Peterhof’s atmosphere created favourable conditions to connect a view from the earth with a view “as if the artist had been born in space“. This makes it possible to turn such “earthly” influences into something new – novel, or unprecedented.




previous page: Chapter 2. Perestroika, the Mayakovsky Friends Club, and pop art
next page: Chapter 4. ROSTA Windows stencil techniques – updated



[1] See exhibitions The New from Leningrad, Kulturhuset, Stockholm, 1988 http://www.e-e.eu/The-New-From-Leningrad-1988/index.htm and Perestroika in the Avant-Garde. Bluecoat Gallery, Liverpool, 1989 http://www.e-e.eu/Bluecoat-Gallery/index3.htm

[2] Potapov, Igor (pseud. Timur Novikov) “Novye Khudozhniki” (Russian) [“Новые художники”,] “The New Artists” (English), 1986

In: Novye Khudozhniki [Новые художники]  / The New Artists, Moscow Museum of Modern Art, Edited by Ekaterina Andreeva and Nelly Podgorskaya. Moscow: Moscow Museum of Modern Art, 2012, p. 29

[3] Potapov, Igor (pseud. Timur Novikov) ”New Trends in the Contemporary Painting of the New Artists”, 1985.

Ibid., p. 32

[4] Andreeva, Ekaterina “A new wave. Classical aesthetics: the paintings and graphic art of the New Artists”

Ibid., p. 44

[5] Процесс творчества можно сравнивать с медитациями. Это не размышления и не поиск наиболее удачного сочетания  цветов и форм.  / все это должно происходить до связи художника с холстом – в голове и одновременно пространстве вокруг него / Сама же работа подобна кажущейся осознанности связи с внешним миром или точнее сказать – с духовной его частью. [В] То время, когда в моих руках кисть со сгустком краски и чистая плоскость холста приближается ко мне – я становлюсь этим материалом.

В это время человек есть лишь способ, тот «приемник», который собрав  в себе все необходимые элементы для возможности духовного растворения своего сознания в космосе является частью этого бесконечного пространства.

Когда я творю, этот непонятный процесс движения руки и мысли – это «передатчик» нашего неразрывного единства. Масса мозга чиста с точки зрения человеческого понятия о необходимости рождения в ней каких-то мыслей, но бесконечно наполнена ощущением окружающей меня жизни и пространства, это чистое чувство, оно не стремится быть выраженным словами. Здесь не существует таких слов как объективность и субъективность – они возникают уже позднее в глазах и ушах зрителей.

Человек /зритель/ субъективен, но это часть одного объективного целого. И то что я делаю это не субъективные мысли, это объективный взгляд, диктуемый объективным естеством моего состояния в процессе творчества. Это взгляд «не изнутри», это взгляд «извне». Связь человека с жизнью , с пространством, временем, вселенной, космосом, бесконечностью; поиск им своего идеала , мечты, любви, процесса слияния и рождения, Того вечного и естественного, что всегда было, есть и будет объективностью, независящей от самого человека.

[…] естественно, как течение самой жизни. Я становлюсь этим процессом – в момент творчества.

Все мнения людей, все оценки творчества – субъективны и не играют никакой роли….

Kozlov, (E-E) Evgenij, Diary III, pp. 3-06 to 3-10, January 1982.

Web 20 August 2020. http://www.e-e.eu/Diaries/index3.html

[6] Kozlov, (E-E) Evgenij. “Two Cosmic Systems”, 1991, translated into English. Web 20 August 2020.

http://www.e-e.eu/2-cosmic-systems/index-en.htm

[7] “The Art of the Future.” A conversation between (E-E) Evgenij Kozlov and Hannelore Fobo, 1991

Web 20 August 2020. http://www.e-e.eu/art-of-the-future/index.htm

[8] Fobo, Hannelore. “(E-E) Evgenij Kozlov USA-CCCP-CHINA – Works 1980-1989 and Their Spiritual-Religious Dimensions”, 2018. Web 20 August 2020. http://www.e-e.eu/USA-CCCP-CHINA/conference-paper.htm




Introduction: The ostensibly synchronistic evolution of the New Artists

Part One: The New Artists and the Russian avant-garde

Chapter 1. Timur Novikov: native roots and western influences

Chapter 2. Perestroika, the Mayakovsky Friends Club, and pop art

Chapter 3. E-E Kozlov: Two Cosmic Systems

Chapter 4. ROSTA Windows stencil techniques – updated

Chapter 5. The inclusion or exclusion of stylistic influences

Chapter 6. From Mayakovsky to Larionov and folk art: something of everything

Chapter 7. Beyond the trend: Kozlov’s portrait of Timur Novikov (1988)

Chapter 8. Cosmopolitism and ethnicity: how Russian is the Russian avant-garde?

Chapter 9. Narodnost’: quite simply the people

Part Two: E-E Kozlov and Peterhof

Chapter 10. Fishing at Peter the Great’s pond
Chapter 11. The Petrodvorets Canteen Combine

Chapter 12. Galaxy Gallery

Chapter 13. A perception of pureness

– Works cited –

Research / text / layout: Hannelore Fobo, May / September 2020.

Uploaded 24 September 2020