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Dmitry Gutov

March 23 - April 20, 2012

Our Lady of Tikhvin, 2011-2012, metal, welding, 117х90х35 cm

Our Lady of Tikhvin, 2011-2012, metal, welding, 117х90х35 cm
Our Lady of Tikhvin, 2011-2012, metal, welding, 117х90х35 cm

Our Lady of Tikhvin, 2011-2012, metal, welding, 117х90х35 cm
Our Lady of Tikhvin, 2011-2012, metal, welding, 117х90х35 cm

Our Lady of Tikhvin, 2011-2012, metal, welding, 117х90х35 cm
The entire exposition
* εἰκών [eːkɔː́n] Ц (Ancient Greek) image, figure

Dmitry Gutov presents a new series of his three-dimensional works in metal. This time, he takes as his source ancient Russian icons. Working with icon imagery is quite logical from a formal point of view since it is well known that icons were based on so-called exempla Ц drawn samples of images Ц a set of which was owned by practically every professional icon painter. Gutov himself claims that he chose not to use any exempla that survive in archives because of how standardized they are. Indeed, the creative moment in a Russian icon begins not with the act of copying and repetition, but from its failure when an unforeseen discrepancy occurs.

It is very difficult to determine the genre of these art objects.

A flat ornate metal "grate" is made into a peculiar type of dimensional sculpture. As soon as one steps slightly to the right or left, the image begins to get distorted. And this distortion goes through all the stages of the development of Russian art in the 20th century, from cubism, to expressionism, to radical abstraction. "Left" and "right", moreover, are words that in political parlance denote political preferences. Is it possible that all these distortions happened due to an excessive politicization of artistic vision? Due to the interference in art of real politics, be it "right" or "left"? Let these questions remain a Damoclean sword without presupposing a definite answer.

Gutov's works are a literalizing embodiment of the history of art. A demonstration of practically all of the 20th century's art history stems from a simple and natural act of circling a sculpture. In a traditional sculpture in the round, the viewer gets different perspectives of the same volume; in Gutov's sculptures, on the other hand, this volume does not exist, and each new perspective denies the previous one.

This is history of art as a physical movement of a body in space.

Anatoly Osmolovsky

The whole story of the creation of metal pieces that give a three-dimensional representation to my beloved classic art has been described many times, both by me and by my colleagues. So the only new development here is the appearance in this series of icon painting.

Ancient Russian art has been a subject of my interest since I was a child. (It is worth mentioning that my final thesis at the Academy of Art written more than twenty years ago was about Pavel Florensky.)

As of late, icons have become of ever-greater interest to me. This is probably connected to the fact that what we observe around us is an atmosphere that strongly reminds one of the age of the decay of the Roman Empire. At that time, a belief in miracles and various other forms of rejecting reason blossomed with an incredible intensity.

What we see now is just the beginning, and what we are talking about concerns much more than just the fate of Russia.

The late 1950s and the early 1960s revealed to humanity the joy of consumption. It was the era of the first washing machines, the first vacuum cleaners, etc. The star of Pop Art rose at this time, Duchamp was resurrected from the dead, and "our" era began. Yet now we see how right in front of our very eyes, this state of affairs is bursting at the seams. We are entering the era of spiritual consumption. Hence the long lines to see The Belt of Our Blessed Virgin Mary, downshifting, an interest in Eastern practices, and even anti-Putin demonstrations.

What are these things in their essence if not a refusal of the joy of consumption in favor of loftier values? Under these circumstances, my role is of a Warhol turned inside out. My icons, which, it should be said, are absolutely canonical but purified of even the slightest shadow of stylization, are the anti-soup can.

In my works, I follow not just classical icon exempla, but also the very process of an icon's painting, and even such nuances of an icon's surface as, for example, its abrasion or loss of fragments of the paint layer. All of this, of course, is done without affectation.

One also must note that in classical Marxist aesthetics, of which I am a great admirer, the icon is presented as ideal art, the living legacy of ancient Greece.

Dmitry Gutov

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