La toilette, 2017

In his artworks Nikolay Tolmachev achieves the almost impossible balance between meticulous technique, a minimalism of subject which creates instant emotional impact, and an artistic wit which forces the viewer to think deeply about what exactly is being depicted. Aspects of sexuality abound in his subjects, but it is never a simplistic interpretation; there is almost always a nuanced double-take involved, a juxtaposition of the safe and the edgy which is a trademark of his art, and of his world-view.

Alain Rauwel of the Da-End Gallery writes of the artist, ‘Tolmachev’s work is, with a dazzling poise, a striking echo of a very dense inner world, on the borders of the baroque and the strange. The technique practiced by the young virtuoso shows his indifference to most post-modern work – he uses watercolour, the medium of ladies painting flowers, but his are the flowers of evil, where lilies and roses spread their captivating scents in the salon of Dorian Gray. Tolmachev’s world is poetic yet violent, and often hyper-sexualised. We meet dreamy boys with paradoxical halos, practising the cult of Saint Sebastian by replacing arrows with rose thorns, and young women with the nudity of modest Venus, yet exuding the blood of martyrdom and defloration. In his recent work human and animal mingle in figures of desire, and the cosmos itself takes part in the distress of passion.’