| || The Kiev artist Vasily Tsagolov dissects the collective unconscious and the visual imagery of the Mass Media. He reveals the deep involvement of both in the production of phantasms. |
The example of Vasily Tsagolov demonstrates the way in which thought about Art precedes an artist's work process and accompanies it. When the painter Tsagolov after the asceticism of experimentation returned to the figurative, he radicalized the picturesque illusion, stripping it of density and creating in it ruptures through which the voice of reality itself began to resound, with its not always obvious psychedelia. The unpainted canvas in his painting was arguing with the paint and in an avant-garde manner declared the catastrophe of the mimetic tradition and the picture as an object of reality, as a ready-made.
Tsagolov has always been interested in the ruptures in post-Soviet reality, which manifested themselves in situations of the total destruction of the habitual models of life and in the mastering of new and unfamiliar realities, which when combined were incompatible. The disrupted social context pointed to the ontological madness of the everyday which suddenly became unreal, Ц that was exactly how the East-European consciousness, split by the trauma of the collapse of the empire, perceived reality. Constructing zones of transgression, the artist caused a clash between the images of different social spaces. These zones were inhabited by violence, social modernisation, communication, the everyday and ideology.
In the new project "Fear Has Many Eyes" the manipulations with the object element affect not the social but already the physical order, the very substance of the world structure: he combines a living head and metal, a ballet tutu and dynamite, a classic landscape and a natural one, choreography and weapons, a ballerina and an oar.
Vasily Tsagolov constructs ruptures in perception by combining various Mass Media clichés. He examines the torn templates of reception in the situation of the obvious, though not overt apocalypse of visual habits. Today the unpainted canvas in his paintings announces the new ontology of the virtualised and illusory world, and also the understanding of the image beyond any language. The modern image in a traditional medium (e.g. painting), persistently reminds one of its non-existence. At the same time, the seductive self-exposure of the images makes up the most exciting part of the viewer's existence.
We read Tsagolov's paintings as the reality of the medial, as the unconscious element of this reality, concealed behind a visual symbol. It is that place from which nightmares come to us. The content of the medium is a different medium. Such an interpretation is characteristic of new media Ц thus, Bill Morrison shows the reality of a film under a moving motion-picture, and in so doing, constructs a Tsagolov-like rupture between the carrier of the image and the imagined meaning.
In the project "Fear Has Many Eyes" Tsagolov continues working with the global representations of Russia, in particular, with classical ballet dancers and Caucasus terrorism. Their combination creates an incredibly comic effect. The artist deliberately lowers the level of art through the wild subject matter and the traditional technique. We see tender girls on a stage, too narrow for dancing, but they are dancing, wrapped in explosives, flowers have been thrown to their feet. A ballerina rowing in a boat. A ballerina with a Kalashnikov automatic rifle. This extreme absurdity on a mountain backdrop, the viewer tries to make into a story, it does not work out. The spectator protects himself by laughing.
His pictures serve as a vehicle of meanings which unavoidably parasitize on the seamy side of the Mass Media. They are the medium of absurdity, but are not absurdity itself. To leave no doubt, there is a theatrical curtain hanging down from the sky, a landscape is crossed by a strip of ornamental pattern, reminiscent of a picture in a book. Different media-realities unite in order to expose our imagination which does not observe itself.
Tsagolov's painting is becoming more virtuosic and easy, but more importantly its relationship is not with form but with its presence: it leaves us in reality, leaves us observing the observer, as if we are watching TV. However, the point now is that the viewer is the one being observed, and our reality is the reality of a television show.
Translation: Pavel Glebov