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Михаил Батин, Алексей Турчин
10.12.2013- 15.12.2013

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«Трасса М4. Ростов - Москва» / Современное искусство Ростова-на-Дону

Лес/ Современное искусство Краснодара

Культурный Альянс. Проект Марата Гельмана

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Дилетантизм в искусстве

Excursion around the Museum Boijmans Van Beuningen. Rotterdam

Hello. My name is Dmitry Gutov. I am an artist from Moscow. In the following 30 minutes I will be your guide in the B.V.B museum. My project is made as a work for Manifesta 1 which is currently being held in Rotterdam. We are going to head towards the big round place and then turn to the right and make our way up the staircase to the hall of the old Netherlands painters.

We will start our excursion from one of the best works in this museum: on the left wall, in the center, there is a canvas by Van Eyik "Three Maries at the tomb".

To tell you the truth, I am interested only in one question: What kind of art is possible today? Or, to be more precise: what does the world look like in the second part of nineties?

Let's get closer to this painting and look at the face of the sleeping soldier. Here he is in metal body armor. A slightly puffy face. Puffs under the eyes. The main discovery here lies in the fact that misery is shown very poetically. The character has overslept the greatest event - God's ressurection.

I think that such point a of view is the only possible nowadays. When a man has become as miserable as ever. He needs the most sublime attitude.

A helmet at his feet is painted fantastically! With the shining of tiny red and blue pebbles.

Let's look to the left, at the bottom of the picture. A plant with yellowish flowers. These blades of grass everywhere. This total trust towards the surface of things, their real form. We have crossed the border from which it was possible to critisize the world, to accuse it. Nowadays we can only adore it.

Now I should like to show you one more work in this hall, if you turn, on the opposite wall, to the left of the door. Here is a work of Dirk Bauts "Johann". A red figure on a green background. The foot is painted a touch too dry. While painting the grass around the feet, the brushwork was moving too mechanical. This is only the beginning of moving away from van Eiyk. Its unresolved quality led to monotony and stillness, which flourished in the Xxth century. Now, at the end of the century they became foreign to our eye. But the stones underneath are wonderful. As well as the transparent edge of the water. It is quite a modern piece.

Now we will go to the next hall. The door to the right of Johann. We are going through it to the left door. Unfortunately we have no chance to see all the works. And now we enter hall number 3. On the right wall you can see a painting by Bosch "Saint Christophorus". The story of a giant, who helped people to cross the river and who once carried the baby Christ on his shoulders. From the distance the picture exudes harmony, but if we come closer we will see that it is full of sad delirium. And on the right there is a tree where a fox is hanging by the tail. On the left, a man has thrown his arbaleth and is hanging a bear. Everything is sharp and fresh. The absurdity of what is happening is painted in a manner and technique, discovered for the sake of a different goal. That is the shining of tones and transparency. The technique of oil-painting had been developed in order to describe the poetics of the world and not its dissolution. But this separation has been consuming itself during 500 years of self-improvement. The epoch where it was possible to appreciate an artist's work with an exclamation "It's crazy!" is passing in front of our eyes.

To the left of "Christophorus" is "Peddler". The composition forms a circle. Its making conforms to the rules of colour and compositional harmony. The understanding of the motives behind a person's deeds, the one who has lost his inner calmness. Thousand expressions are floating over his face. But 50 years had passed after van Eyik and then the artist had to pay for all his achievements. The price is the deep pessimism of a moralist, punishing the world for its sins. Such rhetorics were still possible in the works of 1970-s, but it is absolutely unacceptable now. The world is so decayed that there doesn't exist a point of view from which we can see it that way.

Now, if we turn to the left there is Breigel's work "Babylon tower" on the central wall. The finest commentary to this work are those pages of Marx's "Capital" where he writes about factories in England in the XVIth century. The main forces in a man are uncovered, his possibilities become enormous but he turns into misery. Breigel finds the ideal distance where we can see the greatness of everything happening and the insignificance of a man. Here we see a similarity to Van Eyik in the astonishing attention to small details. It was not necessary for Breigel when he painted natural peasants' life. The price Beigel had to pay for his genious is the allegorical character of the image. Its constant use has turned into vague symbolics and a system of syphered statements, which were so much loved in the Xxth century.

If we turn and come to the glass vitrine, we will see a small beautiful still-life. Here high poetics are combined with the real images of objects. And that is modern. The epoch of delirium has finished. The sensitive surface of the world is again fresh and it can cheat nobody.

Now we are moving to another hall. To the door on the right. A big canvas is on the wall. This is Peter Aertsen. A picture where we can see the features of decline isn't very interesting now. As well as manierism or Pre-Rafaelits. It was popular to adore it in the epoch of decline. Now there is no decline as there is nothing to rot. That's why Michelangelo's opinion towards such painting is so close to us. Thus, he said: Only those people like it who don't feel any sensitive harmony. Even if it is very pleasant for the eye, there is neither sense, nor symmetry, nor proportions: there is neihter choice nor greatness. Here exists neither power, nor beauty. I think it is a very modern point of view.

And now if we turn and come to the nearest glass stand, we will see a small picture on the right. This is Bosch. The fragment of his work, an old woman's face. Unfortunately we can't come closer because of the glass. A beautiful face, not too ideal but full of natural inner life.

Now we are turning to the right and going to the next, fifth hall, representing Rubens' drafts.

We are going slowly along the right wall. Looking at the works. The main attraction for the collecter. The drafts are not spoiled by Rubens' pupils. A genious needs an orgy. The orgy is a kingdom of freedom. Liberation of strong and bright desires. Nowadays again a man is standing in the face of a great situation and a great action. That's why Rubens is so close to him.

Now we are going to another sixth hall. Going through it. Now continue, through the seventh hall with 17 century landscapes. Let's come into the hall 8 to see the genre scenes by Jan Sten. Let's approach the opposite wall, closer to the second work from the left. Somebody is being operated on the throat here. The world which is looking at itself with the artist's eyes sees that it is quite disgusting. It is difficult to stand it even having developed the power of observation. But like a faraway echo of a bright glance of van Eyik, this scene has the touch of an art of painting. Here is its content - soft humour like a weak hope for the better future.

In 300 years, when this hope totally disappears, those swabs will be put into exhibition spaces.

The world is too beautiful for the annihilated person, to pay attention to such miserable things.

Now we will go through hall number nine, passing Claude Lorrene, Charden, Vatto. Let's enter into hall 10, in the corner there is a small work of Gerard Gerboch "The Spinner".

Hegel deeply understood those small pictures. He found in them an accurate depiction of banal nature and a reflection of the inner honour of people. Because they had achieved that prosperity themselves. They conquered the earth from the sea, liberated from Spain, achieving religious freedom.

Let's view the second work on the right. "Maids at the window" with a lavishly painted rug. Hollandeers paid for their art by smallness, even in the small works. But today the world soul doesn't live in this prosaic reality. It exists only in the great. Because nothing else is left.

Now we are going to the 11th hall and just to the left we can see two portraits by Rembrandt. We will approach the right portrait of a boy. Rembrandt is full of the same high and mighty feeling which had been stimulating van Eiyk. But in the 17th century, one had to pay more for the ability to see the world in such way. Hot light is burning the cold part of the pallete, all green and blue shades. The impasto is forced, it gets its own history which terminates with the transformation of the picture into an object. But today there is no longer price which could buy you such point of view on life. It could only be presented without any efforts. That's why Van Eiyk in any case closer for us.

Now let's move to the next exit, crossing this big hall and passing through the enfilade. Still-lives, portraits and genre scenes, are floating beside us. Go further. We are going to the opposite exit and come to hall 15.

On the right there is a sea battle in a rich frame. We turn to the left and enter the next hall number 36. Let's not stop in this hall and carry on to hall 37. We enter into this hall and on the right in the center of the wall we see a small portrait. Let's come to it as close as possible. The face is of astonishing dignity. It lacks any occasional features. His gaze is calm, not concentrated, and full of human attitute towards life.

That is the understanding of greatness of a human being which, I think, constitute today's life.

That is the way to paint - simply and sublime. How is it possible to make installations after this.

Now we shall turn to the right, and go thrugh the nearest door and into the hall which we have just passsed. Immediatly on the right there is a Titian "A Boy In Pink with a Dog" He ressists trivial characterisations through a variety of painting methods. Titians great discovery was in the expression he attained through the movement of his brush. This non-adherance to strict contours has its own history the extremity of which was the total elimination of image.

Another exemplary work in this hall is in the glaas vitrine occupying the center. We shall approach it from the left. A portriat of a boy by Veronaise.

How many natural and beautiful emotions he has. Aliving and thinking creature could be easily insulted - but, any insult has its limits. When these limits are surpassed a persons face can again become radiant.

Now we shall goto the right, through the door and into hall 15 with the Sea Battle where we have alreadz been. Turn to the left passed the corridor. there are windows on the right. We are going to go into the hall where in front of us we can see a womans portrait. Now we are in hall 17 turn to the right and move through the passage. There are two dark works to the right of this passage, this is Onoray Dormier. To the right is "The Trial". The truthful image of the 19th Century was not picturesque and the artist had to struggle with the strong intention of his will. He refuses to represent the faces of these monsters.

We are going to go to hall 19, do not stop. On the left there is Claude Monet who blurred his vission so as not to focus on this misery. We continue through hall 20 and carry on through hall 21. In the next hall, number 23, is Van Gogh, a portait is in front of us. He made a similar attempt to old Dutch and Italian paintings with their truthful and realistic depictions.

Now we are going to the next big hall, number 24, cross it diagonallz and on the left we can see a naked woman. Then we turn to the left to hall 26. We pass Man Ray, Magritte, Dali DeChirico - an art of a dissappearing epoch the language of which is becoming more vague.

Carrying on into hall 26 pass Picabia we go into hall28. Ahead of us there is a picture. A girl is lying. Broken matches. Numerous needles. The boredom and sensless existance of the 1970s. How distant these things are from us.

We pass hall 29 with abstract art and go into hall 30 passing Kandinsky and open the door onto the hall where we can recognise a grez steel cage by Bruce Nauman. When was it? This idea that nothing exists in the world besides primative elements, all this contrasting of living and mechanical, outer and inner, sense and senseless. Those were the discovered methods to discuss an inexpressive world. But today the world is expressive and these ideas have lost their meaning.

We shall go around the cage to the left and enter into hall 34. There is an installation on the left, we go along the right wall and turn ti the right, through the lonf corridir and again turn to the right. Enter the hall where there are four projections around us by Bruce Nauman call rotating glass walls, Let`s approach one of the walls to see the trembling movement. Its not Van Eyke nor Veronaise. This is a representation of our world which cannot be put in a proper form. But it has one big weak point. It is too close to the original. We need some distance (as in Breugels Tower) to understand the impossibility of the incident of the reality which is one big event in itself. Besides it is verz expressive.

Now lets goto the corridor and turn to the right where we shall meet Hans Haacks work. There you will see the storage of the world art. It does not seem to me a storage but a drama. With a very clear plot which will never be finnished.

Now I shall bid you farewell. Thank you very much for your attention. I am very greatful to all those who gave me a chance to work in the Museum. Among wonderful masterpieces of a human hands and minds.

5.06.1996 |  Dmitri Gutov

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