Going on ahead, I would say at once: Yuri Albert is an artist whom I love, respect and value very highly. Let that suffice for the present. More about it later. Now to the matter in hand.
I made Yuri’s acquaintance a long time ago, at the start of the 1980s. In fact, if my memory serves me right, precisely in 1980. I think it was in the summer. And I think it was at the very time when an idiotic inflatable bear drifted above his and my native city, floating up and down under the cloudsas a symbol of the shameful, ambiguous and to us utterly alien celebration, which was called the 1980 Olympic Games. We experienced those days as both comical and repugnant. But we had a full understanding by that time of just where we lived.
If I remember correctly, it was at Andrei Monastyrsky’s apartment that I was introduced to a slight young man, towards whom I immediately felt well-disposed on account of his manner of communicating, which combined self-respect with the most complete good will. Such a combination was a rarity at the time and is even more so today.
In all the long years we have known each other and been friends Yury Albert has never once disappointed me. He has always been even-tempered, friendly and – what is most important – remarkably consistent, humble and committed in the pursuit of his art. I have seen him grow steadily as an artist and a thinking individual, without agitation or external pathos, and without abrupt and vain oscillations.
It is important to know that Yury Albert is a conceptualist. Honest, tranquil, and confident of having made the right choice. He has been a conceptualist and remains one, despite the frequent nervous spasms of friends and colleagues who cry out in their sleep: “Conceptualism is dead! We don’t exist! Forward! Back! Onwards to new shores! Onwards to old shores! Whatever!"
Nervous people – what can you do? It is something I have been guilty of myself.
But Yuri doesn’t shout and flap his wings. He lives and works. He communicates with people, loves art and loves his friends. And he also loves his friends’ art.
And he is infinitely right. Because, as Victor Shklovsky said long ago, "It is a mistake to try and get into the world of great literature, because great literature will turn out to be right where we are – standing and calmly demonstrating that this place is the most important place".