Here is an interview from a Russian news source translated magically by the Google machine about Moscow exhibition inspired and produced by these three intrepid painters:
And the translation, not too good, but covering the gist:
On February 18, a Moscow library opens a group exhibition of Russian artists, “State Power / plein air”. The exhibition can be seen , both sketches and finished paintings depicting the Moscow government buildings and St. Petersburg, as well as photo documentation of plein air sessions. I talked with the artists Elena Ulanova, Alexei Stepanov and Adré Makarov and exhibition curator Daria Serenko and learned what Russian stuckism like the idea of the series, and how the open-air near the government buildings born of artistic practice became politicized in action and absurdist drama.
Why this stuckist tradition? I read about the stuckist movement and their manifesto. It appeared in 1999 in the UK and then spread throughout the world. Stuckists opposed conceptual art and sought to rehabilitate painting as a practice of liberation. You are close to these ideas?
Alexey Stepanov: Stuckism took a long time, and it was a series of specific events that culminated in the big show, which at the same time according to your mood was very chamber. Generally stuckism—chamber about the situation. For us, it is rather a starting point for dialogue, history, thanks to which we were able to work together. We can not say that this is some sort of tradition, the word is not very correct to us.
If we talk about how stuckism opposed to conceptual art, it is possible to accept that the British stuckism fifteen years ago, has been implemented as an attempt to oppose something conceptual, rather it is a concrete thing —painting. It was an attempt to argue with the fact that demand in the art market, offer in return something else. For us stuckism —it is rather an attempt to move from the concept, which in this case is certainly interesting to the picturesque plastic. But we do not want to oppose them to each other.
Your exhibition seemed to me quite a conceptualist.
AS: For conceptual all have become accustomed, it was held as a set of established forms. It can be learned, for example, to go to school or MediaArtLab them. Rodchenko. But we want more. Kontseptulistsky moment may be present in our work, we are not from the moon, and we can not ignore reality. However, we try to combine the different beginning, and what we do—this is not the arithmetic mean between the visual and conceptual. Communication difficult. We are trying to determine the location of the fine in the present context, to realize it in this context.
Now there can be no simple drawing “without a second thought” and thus “everything.” What we are doing is not “just a picture” art in its purest form, when an artist writes and it does not matter what is happening around. At the same time, our art— not exactly a performance as if we drew a “significant” to show himself drawing a fact. Important for us the joy of the result, and not only from the process. In general, there is a task to do that would not have shared on the process and the result —and it does not work in line with fashion trends. I want to live a more intuitive search, beyond the existing closed system of contemporary art.
How did you come up with the idea to write the government buildings, and then put this painting together with photographs of plein air in the library? Who is the inventor?
Andrey Makarov: We are engaged in the plein air from the very beginning, it was another way for us to get together, “find”. We also painted with nature in the workshops—and communicated. On the open-air walk in Kolomenskoye, then at the cemetery, still drew stadiums. At some point came the idea to paint the town. But just like the city to draw interested. So we thought: why not paint the buildings in which the institutions of power are based. “Transition” from classical plein air painting to the government buildings was soft.
Elena Ulanova, Alexei Stepanov, Andrey Makarov
AS .: There was no such that we came up with some concept, and then began to implement it. We do not like this method. We do not want to sell the idea that in fact you can just tell a friend at the table. Besides the question of “what” there “how” questions, “how it will be done” – and they are important. In this case, the concept can take place, but an idea if there is a sale, giving life to the fine. It can not be detached from everything around drawing, it still has its origins in the idea, but at the same time it should be practice. All items must be related to each other, an organic whole. Therefore, we will show in the exhibition not only our art, and photos from the open air, which, in turn, are a continuation of the earlier studies. Everything done must continue to live their intense lives. The exhibition will be part of the event; All this—the idea themselves open-air exhibition—one event, which lasts from the appearance of design to the hanging of the works and the time when we will walk between the pictures and talk to each other.
Yes, it is important that stuckism was originally collective action, and it was one of the reasons why he is interested in us. We feel the need for collective work, to find the path to the personal experience through a common cause. When the three of us go out to some riot police, you begin to feel very well each other. And you realize that there are a number someone else, and that these people are working on the same. And it gets interesting, who is what and how to draw, I draw.
In our exhibition participates another remarkable artist – Ron corpse. He is from the United States, from New York State. We met through social networks, it is also interesting stuckism and what is happening in our country. A year ago we shared with him the works, sent them to each other. Now we communicate, draw together on Skype. Drawing, for example, the police. We found it through a friend, invited home, he was in uniform. The result was a “cop evening.” I then gave his sitters job. Ron decided to support our idea with government buildings and, while in the US, drew on photographs of Moscow White House. This work will also be on display.
Tell us about the open air. As they passed?
Daria Serenko: It was something similar to the rally?
AS .: In Russia there is a situation that if you do not walk down the street from point A to point B and you do not look at it at his feet, consider that you organized a picket. And if you have three, it’s a rally.
DS you .: Power conceptualizes itself.
AS .: Yes, and no matter where we drew, we were everywhere approached. The only place where no one came out during our open-air, — the building of the FSB. We came out in the form of people, and in the case with the Petersburg OMON police came a man in civilian clothes questioned me. He told me that he was the security officer. I talked to him, explained: “I paint, I am an artist, but who are you?”. And he says: “I Chekist.” I asked him: “And where sit the KGB?” And he laughs and shows: on the second floor.
People are scared, when there is something unplanned. The Department of Defense approached the police lieutenant to me. I tried to settle down behind him with a sketchbook, and he asked me for permission to paint. He said: “in the photo and video should always be a solution, then, and drawing, too.” And I tried to make a selfie on the background of the military who were behind bars, almost like in a zoo, and they covered their faces with his hands and shouting, so I did not photograph.
AM .: They always are reinsured. Once we were standing in front of the State Duma, situated near the fashion stores. Around them were guards, and they, too, came up to us and asked what we were going to do. We explained to them. The guards were told to wait until they are asked whether it is possible to draw us here.
AS .: This is a standard pattern of behavior, standardized logic. Not “I know that we can not draw,” and “I’ll find out from your boss, whether it is possible or impossible.” At the Ministry of Defense it can not be proved, and from the military unit in Kronstadt I drove – sailors.
At the Ministry of Labour, on the other hand the President of Admissions, the police came to our friend, too, and then went to ask his superiors. When it became clear that the paint can be, she could not go back and rewrite the data of our passports.
Or the case of the security guard of the Constitutional Court. I stood right in front of the building, and a fellow came up to me. He, too, decided to go and see if you can draw. It disappeared in the bowels of the courthouse, and then returned to his everyday language told me: “Continue to paint!”. And when I finished work, he came to me again and asked, “Have you finished?”. “Finished!” – I reported.
At such moments, we felt the wind that pulls up the event in a black haze of all this bureaucracy, where you can not see anything.
How do you resolve conflicts?
AS .: We were just waiting for an answer. He does not at once, and while you wait, you can catch a lot.
People around once commented on your work?
AM .: Past the State Duma passed a group of policemen, and behind me, for the sketchbook, came a lady, one of them, with the words “let me see if you drew something dirty.” I told her, “we usually have all the dirty drawing at home”
AS .: When I drew the detention center in St. Petersburg, “Crosses”, behind me there were five workers, they put a tile. And one of them periodically looked at what I paint, and commented: “compote! Generally compote! “. So two hours.
Elena Ulanova: I had everything very well: Suitable mainly grandmother and aunt, said: “great!”. One day I was approached by this aunt “brodyazhnogo” kind, he looked up and said, “as well! And you have no stuff? “. I told her that I am a poor artist. She apologized.
Question curator. The exhibition will be held in the library. Not in the room gallery, not in the “white cube”, which, according to the manifesto, the British stakisty not accept. She sostoitsyav public institution of culture, few people associated with political painting. What will happen with paintings and photos in this space?
DS .: The exhibition will be mounted one of these days. Therefore, for me as a kuratorki has not yet formed the image of our exhibition project, it is only virtual. I think we achieved marginal status. On the one hand, the work of public authorities will take a legitimate space of state institutions, but at the same time, this institution—Library Bibirevo, on the outskirts of Moscow. It hung in the still lifes of excess gold frames on the shelves are books. This cozy library Baroque. Suddenly, an exhibition that breaks the space. She should not have to be here. The export of art to the edge, we are committed to cultural decentralization. If I have to defend the show from someone who wants to disrupt it, I will appeal to the “Lianozovo school” underground barracks, “the legacy of North-East” (the North-Eastern Administrative District, where the library is located – ER). I want to build an exhibition stakistov in this tradition, place on the cultural map of the city, where their art will gain a new meaning.
AS .: I close stakistami denial of the “white cube”. What is a “white cube”? This white space with a white pedestal, which can erect anything even white plastic bag full of white paper, write ornate text, again on a white sheet – and get something that is quite pass for the exhibition of contemporary art. Very cool, but very tired. Not interested. Therefore, space that is not “deliberately Exhibition” and combined with our “marginal” painting – it’s a good story. We put out the administrative building on the sidelines of public life. Let them now be on the sidelines.
Prior to this, in the autumn, we organized an exhibition in the “pancake” at the Taganka – in space, it is not adapted for this purpose. And in August, it was the appartment, in a three-room apartment hung over one hundred and fifty works, it’s seventy people. We were twice visited the police – the neighbors called.
The opening is scheduled lecture on political satire. As pictorial and photographic series “State Power / plein air” associated with this genre?
AS .: On the appartment was the work of my series of “cheap food”. I walked into the store and bought pasta for 11.95, painted them and sold the work for 500. After that, go back to the store to buy pasta. It was excellent! I drew myself dinner. And some of the unsold works hung on the walls in the hallway. One person in this appartment asked them why the artist is so interesting social issues. That is the image of cheap food – have “social issues.” This case shows that the nuts in our country are well tightened, and any step towards acquiring some social or political overtones. That seems to show the political, is not determined by the painting itself, and context. Yes, I have to present the works of the inscriptions ( “tags”), but it’s not just them.
Tags, incidentally, shows that the work does not start from the moment for me when I take the canvas and does not end with the last brush stroke. After an open-air I have a desire to add a few words on top of the scene, to think of something with registration. It is a medium of communication conversation context with the fine.
I do not set myself the goal to capture in his works some kind of political satire. I’m more important to achieve in the picture of the “grand absurdity” because it resonates well with what is happening around – this idiotic chord. Usually, when you reach it, it turns out funny.
E.U .: With regard to political satire, I have one job. I really wanted to portray Vladimir Putin, who is preparing to congratulate people on the New Year and before that decorates the Christmas tree. This is a political satire. But in other paintings it is not. Another question is how people will see them.
The exhibition “State Power / plein air” will open on 18 February at 18:00 in the library №52 at m. Bibirevo Str. Konenkov, d. 23. Admission is free. Read more about the opening can be found here.