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New Uebermenschen

The mannerist painting of the young Moscow artist Roman Ass, despite the seemingly obvious visual similarity to Neoacademicism, is not connected through any conscious effort to either the St. Petersburg movement or to any other contemporary tradition. The provocative refinement of the narcissistic brushwork executed in white on black emerges not out of a drawing or painting school, but out of the dark depths of self-sufficient aesthetic desire.

The origins of this series are quite chthonic, which is something one could also say about unreflecting Pop culture and its most common desires, such as the yearning for superheroes. Roman Ass points to this link in the title of the series.

The characters of the New Uebermenschen series demonstrate a hypertrophic and yet very tentative corporeality as an indispensable attribute of a Pop culture hero. Anatomic figuration, used as a code through which certain mass culture values and motifs can be read, constitutes the main point of the series. As a result of such honing in and narrowing down, the characters lack faces and other markers of identity; their place is taken by the body, the characters' heroic posing, and all of drawing's weariful floridity, through which true brutality bursts forth.

All of this together creates the outlines of an archetypal hero. Contemporary Pop culture satisfies its need of him through provisional but well worked-out characters found in numerous comic books, the characters who form the pantheon of superheroes. It is to them that Roman Ass' series consciously corresponds.

The artist presents his New Uebermenschen as a chimeric product which grows out of the dynamic stories of comic books, movies, and the fragments of various metaphysics, aesthetics, and psychic experiments. This is to large degree accurate; hence Roman Ass' positioning of his transgressive images outside of history, geography, tradition, or even color has a programmatic quality to it.

Text: Alexander Evangely
Translation: Ksenya Gurshtein

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