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Before the Rooster Crows

Conceptual formalism: this is what Ivan Plusch calls his style. The essence of the explanation is that any form and any idea behind it are doomed to being wiped out by time gradual and sad or suddenly-destructive. However, this washing away can only be revealed formally (hence "formalism") by catching and depicting the critical level of the disappearance of the image. This is about attempting to stop a river, which cannot be entered twice and to depict the water surface in detail. Pictures capture the moment of the crucial break of the point of assemblage when the vital idea underlying the form suddenly turns into its opposite.

Attempting to describe the process of destruction of the conceptual unity the fluidity of time as such the artist finds himself on a fine line between the distinct realism of the image and freely flowing abstraction. In practice, it is a question of applying just the right technique, which has become the hallmark of Plusch's style: his canvases are always recognisable by the portrait silhouettes which impetuously surge out of the paint layer. In contrast to César's famous coulee, the paint of which slowly and thickly flows down by itself, it is as if an invisible powerful whirlwind blows the paint off Plusch's canvases like water from the windshield of a bolide. The idea-bolide bursts into reality which transforms it in its own way, gets the better of it with its own rules and ultimately inevitably destroys it. The collision occurs on the background of an everyday landscape, of a quiet and calm "picture of reality". It is everywhere, everywhere you look, you cannot hide from it, and it is always with you. But grasping it is impossible, and if you look closely, you suddenly see the cardboard backdrops of things, erected around you, which are merely "window dressing"... What remains on the canvas is a trail of the motley everyday squall, in which impersonal-media is mixed with the human-all too-human.

The wind, squall is a clear image of the material world (in which the picture finds itself) with all its impetuosity, tenacity and persistence in skilfully presenting a work of art for its own purposes. Plusch creates art turned inside out: the picture has already been created by the whirlwinds of this world, and any realities on its surface, which seem to have been generated artificially, in fact turn out to be the genuine ghosts of today.

Wind is only a rough means, an unoriginal metaphor: form embodies idea only for a time in both art and life, and therefore from the outside the destruction of form appears to be completely painless. But only from the outside: formalism always opposes individuality with its basic humanistic values, because in revealing a typology of form, its emotional content is lost.

The wind, moulding the picture, becomes a starting point and subject of artistic analysis. In the new series of works Plusch has found out that there are many more levels of understanding and approach to reality than anyone would like to imagine. "Before the rooster crows" turns artistic technique into an instrument of social and political criticism. Suddenly it becomes clear that the genuinely real are only those whirling media-flows which create everything: it is namely they that direct, order, instruct, vote and count the votes. Just before the year 2012 this unique series of works is designed to capture the most important historical moment of the critical wiping out of form on the scale of a large democratic country. Plusch does not conceal the borders and does not distort the realities. With the severity and confidence of an artist he portrays the outer shells of today's individuals, wiped out at the root by mass culture and the motley mass media, by the mass hecatombs and mass programme to increase the birth rate, and by the faith in justice and in ultimate truth, heard firsthand. Is it still possible, before it is too late, before the third rooster crow, to cast off from oneself the burden of the conceptual winds of change?

Dmitry Ozerkov

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