Picture preview: Young Russian artist Denis Patrakeev in London


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The Independent Culture

An exhibition by one of Russia’s youngest emerging artists opens in London on Friday. Denis Patrakeev, 24, produces bleak visions of children’s playgrounds in chilly colours and an unusual blunting of perspective.

The artist’s limited palette of greys, browns and blues, lends the empty play areas a haunted, dilapidated air. They remind me of pictures published recently of overgrown playgrounds on the site of the Chernobyl nuclear disaster, which took place a year before Patrakeev’s birth.

Patrakeev, who was born in St Petersburg where he continues to live, says playgrounds were the places “where I started to depart from the real me…during my first unprotected contact with society”. This subversion of playgrounds, which should be about fun and childhood idealisation, into sombre and pressurised environments where you need to conform, is very sinister.

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The paintings are filled with barren landscapes, metal bars (swings, climbing frames) and abstract lines which bisect the shapes within. Mixing the figurative with the abstract, and combining radically different painting methods, Parakeev’s work has a collage feel.

Alongside the artist’s ‘Game Earth’ series, an ongoing set of work, titled ‘360 degrees’, made up of large-scale multiple canvasses arranged in sequence will be shown.

Denis Patrakeev | 361 degrees at Erarta Galleries, London 13 January to 18 February 2012, www.erartagalleries.com