The exhibition halls of ROSIZO in Petroverigsky Lane show the exhibition “Re:Renaissance. Egor Ostrov. Fifty paintings by the famous St. Petersburg author Yegor Ostrov sing hosannas not so much to the Renaissance (other eras and styles of classical art are also in the ranks), but to St. Petersburg neo-academism – a bright, mischievous phenomenon in the art of the 90s of the last century. About the “turn to the classics” in the current circumstances – Igor Grebelnikov.
Egor Ostrov is one of those artists who are committed to the same successfully found receive at the right time. He has been “reassembling” classical art for thirty years: he reproduces paintings and sculptures on canvas, randomly colors them and crushes them with a linear raster, most often wavy, which causes a flickering effect. The execution technique has improved: you can no longer keep track of where computer graphics end and manual drawing begins in the pictures. The range of borrowings from the classics is the widest: in sculpture – from antiques to Arno Becker, in painting – from Leonardo da Vinci to Ingres, there are also works based on modern photography, stylized as an old one, as well as porcelain plates based on their paintings.
Raster as a technique in the fine arts is not new: Vasily Uspensky, curator of the current exhibition, curator of the Hermitage engraving collection, recalls that even in the 17th century it was used by masters of incisive engraving, and in the middle of the 20th century by op art artists , “optical art”. The first – to give volume and realism, say, to the sky or clouds; the latter, with the help of geometry and color, achieved the effect of mobility, pulsation of abstract images, thereby anticipating the tricks of digital technology.
Ostrov’s paintings also manipulate vision. Through the veil of writhing lines, as if with a blurred eye, we see the sculpture “Discobolus”, a fragment of “Creation of the World”, “Saint Sebastian”, “Danaeus”, “The Rape of the Sabine Women” – a total of six halls in which Gregorian chants sound in the background.
All this is thought of as a kind of antidote to worldly fuss and the harmful influence of modernist (read: contemporary) art. “The “Black Square” marked the modernist rejection of figurativeness … the art of complex, full-blooded, contradictory, pathos-filled images is a thing of the past, giving way to the art of the sign. Together with the image, the sphere of the sublime was also expelled from art,” the text accompanying the exposition rumbles, as if at a party meeting. Four huge canvases from the new Archstrategy series pit the Archangel Michael (borrowed from Raphael and other Renaissance masters) against Suprematist compositions in a duel: geometric figures closely surround the Archangel, brandishing either a sword or a spear, but, unlike the originals of these paintings, on which he confidently defeats the devil, here the outcome of the struggle is not so obvious. the painting completed the Hermitage exhibition “Raphael’s Line”), continues the host of ancient and Old Testament heroes, apostles, saints, and crowns in a separate dark room “Savior of the World” – the best forces are again thrown into the war against modernism.
This has happened before, and not so long ago. In the early 1990s, a “turn to classics and beauty” was promoted and planted at the New Academy of Fine Arts, founded in St. Petersburg by Timur Novikov. The island participated in many of their exhibitions. The then ecstasy of “beautiful”, “ideal”, “sublime” was favored by both the place of action and the time. “The classicist declarations of the New Academy coexist with the colorful bohemian life of the nineties … Everything flew off its hinges: both doors and brains; artistic life, squeezed and closed for decades, suddenly opened wide; professors and corresponding members of the New Academy were charming, young, poor and rabid, everyone looked very cool, ”art historian Arkady Ippolitov writes about that time. Yes, and bodily emancipation – the art of St. Petersburg neo-academism is very erotic – it was more convenient to rely on the images of ancient and Renaissance art. still captivates. Recall, if we are talking about the “reassembly” of the Renaissance, “Apollo trampling the red square” (1991) by Timur Novikov: a simple application of two tiny figures on a shiny fabric reduced the pathos of the struggle against modernism to a charming joke.
The current Re:Renaissance, despite the scale of the exhibition and the sounds of chorales, still looks more like a tribute to those times. All the more so since the task of overcoming modernism in Russia seems to have already been accomplished, and by no means in the artistic field.