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New Testament Project

Dmitry Vrubel and Victoria Timofeeva

May 12-18, 2008

Special exhibition in the framework of Art Moscow
Central House of Artist, halls 22-27

M&J Guelman Gallery
Non-commercial partnership "Art Epoq"
(Assosiation Group "MELAKS")

Special exhibition in the framework of Art Moscow fair
Central House of Artist,
halls 22-27

Preview: May 12, 5-8 p.m.
(invitation cards or accreditation are obligatory,
tel: (495) 2281159, 2281339)

May 14, 4-9 p.m.
15-18 May 12 a.m. Ц 8 p.m.

Boris Groys

Good and Bad News

For a reasonably long period of time, the main activity of artists was the illustration of the Scripture. Medieval illuminated manuscripts to this day delight us with the artistic perfection with which the illustrations of the Old and New Testament were executed. In the Modern era, art expressed the wish to become autonomous and began the struggle with illustrative tendencies. The question as to how successful this struggle has been is a difficult one to answer. At any rate, one can only welcome the noticeable revival of the illustrative drive in contemporary art. An excellent example of the latter is Dmitry Vrubel and Victoria Timofeeva's series of illustrations to the New Testament.

Obviously, artists working in our own time use an illustration technique different from the one practiced by medieval masters. This, of course, is the technique of the ready-made. Precision in drawing is replaced here with precision in the choice of illustrative material. In order to illustrate the texts of the Gospel, Vrubel and Timofeeva use visual material supplied by the international news agencies, specifically Reuters, to the contemporary mass media. This decision is quite justifiable since the word "Gospel" (analogous to the Greek "euangelion") literally means "good news." In this sense, one might consider the Gospel as the prototype for modern media; the Gospel was the press and the TV of its time Ц the means of distribution for messages about sensational events happening in the Palestine of that moment. It is with the Gospel that everything which also characterizes the culture of our time begins: the cult of the new; the demand to follow the news so as not to miss the omens and portents of things to come; the call to dispense with the old and follow the spirit of the times; the rule of fashion and design; globalization; the orientation towards media stars in the persons of the apostles and martyrs, who suffered in the arenas so graciously provided by the Romans for the occasion; etc.

But the main news that the Gospel delivered to the world and which gave birth to modern means of mass communication was about the nature of news itself. To wit, it's news about the fact that only bad news is good news. Indeed, the Gospels, being the "good news," do not tell the reader anything good. God is dead, his apostles are martyred, the general picture of the world is not just sad, but absolutely awful, pre-apocalyptic. Where does the evangelical optimism come from, then? One cannot help but think that it references not to the content of the news, but the simple fact of its existence, that it is news and that this news is new. The evangelical "good news" consists of the fact that even the awful new is better than the familiar old Ц simply because this newness is new.

Today, we live in the world which once believed this news and believes in it to this day. The works of Dmitry Vrubel and Victoria Timofeeva illustrate beautifully this structure of modern faith. The illustrations that he uses register for the most part dark, horrible, or, at the very least, unhappy facts of reality. And yet at the same time, the work as a whole has an air of truly evangelical optimism about it. The bad, when it becomes news, becomes good. On this paradox of faith Ц faith in the Gospel and faith in modern media Ц all of modern conscience is based. Vrubel and Timofeeva's work brings this paradox of modern faith out with great precision. And in general, Vrubel and Timofeeva belong to those artists who can, as they say, hit the mark. This is once more affirmed by his Gospel series.

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