Invented for last year's exhibition of contemporary Russian art in the Louvre, the project, "Our apologies, the opening of the exhibition has been postponed for technical reasons", became almost prophetic: a difficult situation with the transportation of Avdey Ter-Oganian's works very nearly disrupted the opening day. Although, Alexey Kallima invented his story half a year earlier when he had only just been shown the luxurious space where the exhibition was to be held Ц "whatever is exhibited in such halls, all looks good, and anyway loses out when compared with the interior. And I decided to paint the construction of the new walls that cover a dungeon, its beautiful masonry. I am for sterile white spaces."
The author of the best known figurative works of the generation of the 2000s, the first laureate of the state award Innovation, is well-known for his romantic works on the theme of Chechnya: unusual people, in unusual circumstances, running, diving to the ground, shooting, descending by parachute, at the very least, playing football, but if they were doing nothing Ц sitting and smoking, then shown from spectacular angles, in strange poses, in Adidas sportswear. In his works, behind vivid, rich imagery borrowed from the classics of Soviet monumental art, behind a feeling of the displacement of space and time, other unhidden meanings exist Ц in the first place, the analysis of the relationships of reality, its perception and the ways of depicting them, and of the relationship between the visible and invisible, the hidden and obvious.
Having started with radical performances and installations, Kallima, it seems, perceives his main task as avoiding the obvious way: not doing things that are expected from a well-known artist who has already gained a name, not using already developed and successful recipes. The relationships of his works with reality are rather close Ц Chechen stories, spaceships made out of cigarette packs glued together, and landscapes passing by outside the window appear, apparently, from direct observation. It is noticeable that the stories told by the artist are becoming simpler Ц recently he has been interested in recursive ones (defining the object in terms of the object itself): "the canvases appear due to the existence of canvases on which these canvases have been painted. A collapse of meaning occurs. Typically, the artist wishes to convey an idea, but I think that this is unnecessary. I think that symbolic meanings are not needed, it is sufficient to find a plastic motif in order to create a work of art."
The new work is simple, like truth, conceived as "an ode to workers, without whom Art does not exist." Yes, the artist lives: is interested in current theories, listens to clever people's lectures, works and communicates. And suddenly realises that Art is the only genuine reality in which he exists, moving from one exhibition to another: exhibitions, setting up, dismantling, hanging, arguments, re-hanging, installing the lighting, and the strong belief that in another city, in another country all will be repeated to the letter. Something else is going on in the sphere of Art Ц but this framework is constant and inevitable, although old-fashioned: neither interactive installations, nor video change it. No matter what media is used Ц in a respectable establishment walls will still be erected and painted. Including these as well Ц from Kallima's new project, invented as a construction set Ц six parts of different sizes, forming a box of complex configuration.
This looking beyond the performance Ц into the coulisses of a theatre, into a film set, into a restaurant kitchen, like the fashion of turning things inside out, Ц is an important element of contemporary culture. This is a sure way of reducing pathos, exposing the hero, catching up with him, and at the same time killing magic, for the sake of which everything was started in the first place. The veils are torn off simply in order to be sure that there is nothing special behind them: in essence it is the same performance, not restricted by the genre's limits Ц there is neither magic, nor inspiration, but only the usual technical process, the details of which can now be seen by anyone. But Kallima transforms this process into a self-contained spectacle, into which Ц due to the natural, human scale of the figures, the public can also fit, to be photographed against the background Ц the audience loves it...