“Art is the only way to leave a trace on Earth.” (Arkadiy Kozlovskiy)
Known for his exquisite vision of the erotic feminine form, self-taught Russian photographer Arkadiy Kozlovskiy (b. 1964, Germany − d. 2014, Russia) came to his art late in life. Nevertheless, within a short span of merely three years he would become highly regarded, and sought after for his enchanting portraits of desire, embodied in pictures of sumptuously striking nudes.
This highly collectible master made elegantly sensual pictures showing the most beautiful of women in repose, a dancer in a quiet moment, a longhaired exquisitely pretty woman at one with nature, another posed against the most dramatic of landscapes, or languishing in a private erotic moment. Whatever the scenery the unique quality of these alluring photographs are at the core of twenty first century erotic photography, and enchant his collectors worldwide.
While Kozlovskiy’s work began to garner considerable interest in the Russian photography community, and the stirrings of international collaborations had begun, the artist’s life was tragically cut short by cancer. He passed away in 2014, a short four years after dedicating himself to his art: the flawlessly composed, charged portrait of the female nude, a testament to the enduring passion of the feminine body.
Kozlovskiy received his first camera at age 12, but it would be many years before he would dedicate his time to photography. In fact, the artist’s success came about only in the last three years of his life that marked the true expansion of his oeuvre. Rather, the artist began with engineering studies at The National Mineral Resources University in Saint-Petersburg, Russia. He worked in the field for some time as well as developing his own business producing refractory materials for the metallurgical industry.
As the business grew, he was able to spend time developing his photography practice, and began expanding his wide range of nude portraits, and within a short three years, his impressive oeuvre gained him recognition in the Russian photography community. The artist created a symbiotic relationship online on various websites and as a rather modest person hardly promoted his artworks offline, wishing to facilitate critical and creative exchange, and make his work accessible.
Admired for the tastefully sensual classic beauty of his compositions, Kozlovskiy earned a reputation for being a true master of the erotic, highlighting the natural beauty of the female form and nude. He liked to use a Canon 5d mark II, and remarked to his children that it was the under recognized photographers that he admired the most, perhaps for their tenacity in pursuing a bold approach that expresses their own view of the world.
For his part, Kozlovskiy’s undeniably sexy pictures transport their viewer to a dream like space, a charged moment of pleasure, a un léger frisson, a contemporary version of the classic artist favorite, a woman at her bath, in front of a mirror, dressed, or perhaps waiting for her lover. While the scenes, poses, viewpoints and treatments are quite diverse, the artist’s highly collectible work is distinguished by the way he was able to capture emotion, desire, the lines of the body, and the environs harmoniously, the lines of an interior mirroring the curves of a soft body, or the craggy theatrical incline reflecting the queenly voluptuous splendour of a model. The highly sought after, inimitable, and undiscovered richness of this artist’s unique vision of the nude female form is certain to become a favourite among not only those who collect erotica, as well as art aficionados who love classic nudes.
The artist’s work is found in numerous private and corporate collections worldwide. Select exhibitions include DUSCHE, Dusche, Saint Petersburg in December 2012, as well as the wonderful Nudes on TAP Exhibit, Head on Photo Festival in Sydney, 2016.
Critical Reflections on the Work of Nude Photographer Arkadiy Kozlovskiy
A scientist turned master of erotic photography; Kozlovskiy often preferred the work of more minor artists in part because he admired the way they worked without constraint ignoring hierarchies of high and low.
Nevertheless, to truly understand the work of the late Russian photographer, we must first recognize that the resuscitation of Russian photography is not without national precedent, not only was photography a key competent of the work of Aleksandr Rodchenko, before the revolution, but as well, both local and emigrant Russian artists contributed to the visual language of Russian photography including Alfred Eberling, Nikolai Svishchov-Paola, Andrei Knyazev, Dmitry Vozdvizhensky, Alla Esipovich, Vita Buivid, Konstantin Khudyakov.
Even more importantly, it seems that Kozlovskiy should be situated in the field of fine art as well. Perhaps we can look at paintings, specifically the depiction of the female nude, whether reclining in erotic disarray intimate interior, at one with a natural surrounding, or ornamented in jewels, clothing, make up, a prettiness verging delightfully on the fetishist. These works such as Titian’s 1538 sumptuous Venus, Velázquez’s Venus and Cupid (1647-51), Ingres’ famously sensual La Grande Odalisque (1814) or the iconic modern works such as Eduard Manet’s Olympia, 1863 are known for their explicit content, but also the richness of colour, and beauty of composition. Specifically Russian nude masterworks include Zinaida Serebriakova’s Reclining Nude, 1935. Stories are told in these kinds of paintings, and likewise, in the narrative work of Kozlovskiy, he uses painterly devices such as an architectural framing, on pairing of feminine curves with naturally occurring curvilinear shapes in nature, mountains, rocks, the seashore.
The extraordinary beauty of many of Kozlovskiy’s models reminds one of the poignant photographs of world renowned Helmut Newton, or perhaps Herb Ritts whose work pushed the line between erotica, commerce, and fine art. Even more so, one is reminded of the dramatic yet pared down aesthetic of French photographer Patrick Demarchelier.
In keeping with such masters of the erotic editorial, Kozlovskiy’s unique ability is the balance of structure with the power of sensuality, kink and a graceful composition, lighting, and setting. A natural way with his models, an eye for matching scenery with bodies makes for an oeuvre famous for not only its sexiness, but truly arresting and extraordinary beauty. Repeatedly, Kozlovskiy’s endlessly captivating models leave you wondering, staring longer than perhaps you think you should. Such tantalizing allure, power, and charm: this is the magic of a well-made nude photograph or artwork.
RB, NYC, June 2016