exhibitions

current

55.jpg 29.03.2021 - 29.05.2021

Peter Belyi Concrete Revelation

From Melancholia to Ecstasy (and back again)

Those not tainted by art history or religion may be reminded of building sites when they see Peter Belyi’s piles of cement on the wall. The metal bars slanting through them may be all too familiar. How many of our brutal architectural creations appear unfinished. The act of creation can never fully escape that destruction that precedes it and follows it. The act of decay invariably prevails.

Of course, the artist and I are scarred by art history, the weight of all the work that artists have made before, all the thoughts, feelings and dreams they had. So much so that the delayed exhibition Melancholia (now part of Present Continuous) he is showing currently at the Garage, is guided by a map made from Durer’s famous engraving of Melancholia, 1514. It takes one through the ruins of past political icons, Lenin and others in the rubble. Durer’s Apocalypse series also supplied the inspiration for his cement works, but if you follow the melancholic map across Gorky Park to the Iragui Gallery, to look at the frieze of cement clouds on their walls, my first thought is of Bernini not Durer. Certainly the way the metallic lines pierce through the cloud may echo that of Durer, and indeed many earlier Renaissance artists such as Giotto and Gentile da Fabriano, but the ambiguity of Belyi’s heavy but fluffy concrete clouds has more connections with Bernini’s St Teresa in Ecstasy, 1547-52.

‘How do you express God, something which does not exist?’ Belyi asked me rhetorically. For a large amount of artists working for the near monopoly patron for centuries, the Church, this was a critical problem. It would be anachronistic to doubt Bernini’s faith, though certainly he was wild in his youth, but however much he believed in his mid-sixteenth century God, he still had a similar problem to Belyi when it comes to showing something that is transparently not there. There is a parallel history in the way we have depicted the rays of the sun to how we have attempted to create an image for our gods, their angels and their spirits. These merge, or diverge however you wish to see it, in Bernini’s St Teresa and Belyi’s concrete clouds.

From the distance of the pews in the nave of Rome’s Santa Maria della Vittoria, on a sunny day, it is easier to believe in God, than on a cloudy day when one goes and pokes ones nose up Bernini’s niche. The artist has funneled the sun to support his own relatively crude model of its rays. It is all tacked together. From where the believers sit and pray it looks divine. It is helped by one of the best sculptural manifestions of La Petite Mort ever made. Love and religion feed off a very similar, if not the very same, human desire to believe. But if one makes the mistake of analysing the rods holding both Bernini’s and Belyi’s structures together, it as Belyi says ‘easier to believe in concrete than in God.’

Alistair Hicks

 

Alistair Hicks is the author of the Global Art Compass. He is the curator of Doublethink: Doublevision, an exhibition at the Pera Museum in Istanbul in 2017 that shows artists from around the world reassessing the way we think. Much of his work is aimed at trying to cut through the art politics and artspeak to show how rich and diverse our times are.

For twenty years he was Senior Curator at Deutsche Bank. While at Deutsche Bank his main job was selecting and presenting art to purchase committees. He created the Man Booker Library while he was art advisor to Man Group. Currently he is on the art advisory board of Cliveden Advisory, the Advisory Committee of Unseen Art Fair (Amsterdam) , on the Global Art Advisory Committee of Hana Bank Global HR Center Art Collection and is a contributor and advisor to Russian Art Focus.

past

19.01.2021 - 19.03.2021

Liza Bobkova I see a catastrophe all the time I sleep

This is a joint exhibition with MYTH gallery (St. Petersburg). This project of Liza Bobkova fully envelops gallery space and turns it into total sculptural installation of 16 spheres and a ton of quartz sand dyed in acid pink Magenta.

A small dictionary.

- Color

Pink. It has evolved from a delicate shade of a cute baby dress to the most acid color of all. It is a color of destruction, shame, violence. A form is set on the pink sand.

- Form

A ball is the only figure in constant motion, its self-renewal occurs without any external force. It is the ideal of cyclicality. The recurrence of the silhouette makes the form filled with emptiness.

- Emptiness

An artist creates something from nothing every time.

A human being needs very little to live – a line that draws a circle. The circles gather in balls, the balls form space.

- Catastrophe 

It is a sign of destruction, followed by a new cycle of all that exists. The end – inevitably – marks the beginning. Catastrophe is a form of refraction of the old ways. By rejecting the old, a person creates a new space.

 

“This installation is a hard day-to-day work: bending stainless steel on a rolling mill, welding rings, hand coloring sand – tons of quartz sand – with acid dyes. Week after week. The duration of the process for me is an integral part of the result. But no matter how difficult the job is, no one shall see what it cost. It shall seem that it is easy and natural, like inhale and exhale. As if it never happened.

Sure, there is no audacity, no political themes, no deliberate expression – everything is obvious and eye-catching. But I do not want to pursue a theme just to check the box, something like “Well done, good work on developing the idea”. Oh no, not this, please. I'm working with what I have in my hands right now.

When the artist’s mood is crappy but bearable, you can work with it. Play with it. There is a sea of examples. But when everything is unbearable, you start to enjoy the pain, the excessively hard work and go too far. You want to erase it from your memory but you cannot, and neither can you transfer it to work. There is no one to share this burden with, and, drowning in obsession, you try to build an ideal shiny well-organized world, with no flaws, no ugliness, no drama. In order to cope with it.

This is what Boris Sveshnikov did in his graphics, trying to concentrate consciousness on a small dot, multiplying it into hundreds more, so that memory would release you, would not drive you crazy, so that it would not reflect in flowing tap water, in a briefcase of a man passing by, in familiar intonations of unfamiliar voices, in the slam of the door, in the turn of the key in the lock.

I focus on the structure.

The feeling that you have changed locks your consciousness into a perfectly tailored cage (like in that song by Peter Gabriel, My body is a cage), and you reflect on your stuck everyday reality. This is a catastrophe that crumbles into memories with any flashback.

A constant unresolved premonition born from a state of mental imbalance, the depth of which causes the only desire – to build a perfect visual picture.

I do not want to be somewhere out there in an augmented reality that went not as perfect as we wanted.

But here.”

- Liza Bobkova

Liza Bobkova (b. 1987) lives and works in St.Petersburg. She graduated from Stieglitz State Academy of Art and Design (St.
Petersburg). Liza works with installations, metall objects and graphic. Selected solo shows are: "Eagerly loved dear friend" in Richter hotel (Moscow, 2020), "Buffer zone" in MYTH Gallery (St. Petersburg, 2019), "Once we became the time" in Pink Pong gallery (Moscow, 2018), "When all rastamans let their cats go" in Cité Internationale des Arts (Paris, 2016). Winner of the "Digital Dreams" competition by Cultural Creative Agency Qatar-Russia and MMOMA (2020), participant of Cité Internationale des Arts residency. Works held in private collections in Russia, France, UAE, the United States, Hong Kong.

MYTH gallery - is a new contemporary art gallery in St.Petersburg.
The key direction of our practice is the acquaintance of professional and wide audience with works of young Russian
artists.

Primarily the gallery aims to support the development of young Russian art: artists who are at the beginning of their careers. The gallery carries out both personal and group curatorial projects in order to support young curators.