I was struck by the quality and originality of these bright, colourful pictures. There before me was a whole, concrete philosophy, a celebration of rural, hardworking life, a heartfelt simplicity. I could immediately identify connections to the work of Natalia Goncharova and Kazimir Malevich in their neo-primitive works of 1911-1912, but with this difference, that Asafov was not looking at the life of the rural worker from outside, but more intimately, from the inside.
Peter Stupples, Otago Polytechnic, NZ
Everything is so difficult with the color. For example stable statement “muted northern nature” does not stand any criticism. An artist notices colors in the northern nature that are not on the face – but they are definitely reflected in the unprejudiced digital camera lens. Russian North has long winter and foggy and rainy autumn. There is no end to the potato fields, endless wheat and oat but more often deserted fields. Nothing to look at besides naked forests and wet mouse-grey sky. Gilbert Chesterton in his essay “The glory of grey” says: “Lastly, there is this value about the color that men call colorless; that is suggests in some way the mixed and troubled average of existence, especially in its quality of strife and expectation and promise”.
This expectation is let off to the canvas by unrestrained palette. In the second part of eighties in continuation of fauvism, art of Henri Matisse Asafov starts widely use color spots in painting compositions of his works: “Motherland” (1986, author’s collection), “Autumn” (1986, author’s collection), “Pie is a target” (1997), “Alyosha, call the geese in” (1993, both – Gallery Korea, Seoul). Many completed works get brand new face with irreparable loss of former one: “Haystack” (1991), “Without women” (1995), “Russian women” (1990), “Artist and people” (1992), “Without men” (1993, all - author’s collection). There happens fundamental restructuring of the style that leads to establishment of authentic personal art signature that is still developing. The movement itself affirms neither freedom of self-expression, nor stylistic figures or happiness and joy of art. Diaries of Varlam Shalamov fix “Painting is physical work”. Art of Genrih Asafov is an ode to peasant and his hard labor: “art shall give hope” is the main thesis and core of his philosophic world.
Sasha Asafov, "Artist of Hope", 2012