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Assembly Tapes

Svetlana Shuvayevà was born in 1986 in the town of Bugulma in Tatarstan. She lives in Samara, where she studies design at the Samara State University of Architecture and Construction.

Despite her tender years, Shuvayevà is an active participant in Samara art life. She collaborates with many local art institutions, ranging from the imposing Victoria Gallery to such underground venues as 11 Rooms and Art Propaganda. This summer, she showed her works for the first time in Moscow, at an international exhibition called Transfer in the M'ARS Centre of Contemporary Art.

Among the first works that Shuvayevà showed in public were her Scans – prints on canvas created by scanning a moving television image. The resulting abstract pictures are not easily classified under any specific genre. They are equally reminiscent of both Abstract Expressionism and distorted screen images. Something that has always fascinated the artist in the modern world, the visual image hanging in the space of indiscernibility is the object of Svetlana's close attention.

In the summer of 2009, Shuvayevà exhibited her recent series of Oilcloths in Moscow. They were created by placing a black grid, which the artist made with the help of a marker pen, on top of the polyethylene tablecloths with florid patterns commonly found in canteens. The combination of the two types of pattern – small multi-coloured flowers and a thick, virtually non-transparent grid – evoked a remarkable shimmering and glowing effect. An electrochemical reaction seemed to take place between the two layers, releasing a form of energy transforming graphic art into painting and lending it depth.

An interest in self-manifesting or "readymade" painting is possibly the best description of the main vector of Shuvayeva's current aspirations. This concept lies at the heart of her Assembly Tapes – a series specially created for exhibition at Guelman Projects. Svetlana now creates transparent mesh structures from the barrier tape used in construction work or urban regeneration programmes.

The use of socially marked objects in pictures has a long tradition in modern Russian art and is primarily associated with Sots Art. Although the influence of Eric Bulatov is evident – something the artist does not conceal – Svetlana's aims are entirely different. The use of this particular signal system is not steeped in social hints or political meanings. This is not a warning of danger, an attempt to liberate the mind from visual clichés or an investigation/denunciation of modern urbanism.

Shuvayeva's attention does not move from the picture towards reality, but the other way around – from the real three-dimensional space of everyday life in the direction of the picture. But is painting, with its nominality and picture space, really possible today? The artist avoids the temptations offered by digital technologies or quotations from 3D-programming. Svetlana's method is simple, yet not naive – she implies space by introducing a sign of space. The assembly tapes literally lie on top of one another (the artist employs a stencil for their recreation). No matter how thin they might be – like the layers of paint on a canvas – they are still there. This means that there is also a picture space, albeit only a few millimetres, clearly separate from the space of the exhibition room. These few millimetres are the artist's personal victory – a space won from artistic illusions. Material and tangible. Painterly.

Yevgenia Kikodze

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