War! , Alexander Kabin
- Exhibition Dates: Friday, 13 May 2016 - Sunday, 12 June 2016
About this Exhibition
The art project “War!” presented at Erarta Gallery in St. Petersburg from May, 12 is a result of a long-term work by the artist from Severodvinsk Alexandr Kabin. Longstanding formation appeared to be the forming factor of the project, which can be seen through such characteristics of its current representation in St. Petersburg as versatility of painting surface, formal searches, plastic deformations and language changing from of paintings, created in different periods of Kabin’s work.
Reference to the war subject is a rare and courageous step for a Russian young contemporary artist working in the field of actual problematics of modern painting and overall art. Avoidance of this matter is mainly caused by the fear of being blamed in too blazing patriotism and reluctance to be put in the conteхt of official art and even propaganda. Indeed the war theme was and still remains the most evident instrument of direct social manipulation. Nevertheless, the artist successfully avoids using stereotypes and pretentious reputable statements.
The main theme which appears evidently in the series is personal and collective memory, existence and transformation of images and traumas of social consciousness from one generation to another. The artist strongly perceives himself as a participant and witness of historical moment when epochs change: time when one can directly see the traces and hear personal statements about the horrible human disaster and the time when these evidences will forever be buried in the archives. Thus the artist investigates the problem of memory conservation, war images and stories transformation in people’s mind and their self-sufficient existence. This can be exemplified by the latest work from the series: small fragments of canvas shown against the white square background directly refer to the phenomenon of frame - fragment of war newsreel which is very fragile, wore out, with the image of war efforts disappearing through times, the only document that will be available to the future generations.
The most sustainable, most vivid image of war for the artist can be found only in private fact, personal experience saved and passed through the private history of the family. Therefore in the present series from the beginning till the end one can increasingly frequently notice the fragments of photos seem to be borrowed from family archive or found objects and materials (rough planks, part of the rusty metallic net) aimed to prove on tactile level the reality of horrible war events. According to the artist himself the most complicated work for him was the painting “War! I was killed near Rzev” which is based on the real story of the artist’s family.
The expressive language of “War!” series develops also within the themes of memory, war image conservation and its’ presence. Thus painting surface seems to be corroded through time as on the old films. The image gets fragmented and partly destructed as if from inside under the influence of the painting medium and then again breaks through the painting surface as from beneath the cultural layers. Therefore comparing to the previous series by Kabin here painting becomes more textured and colorful while the human figure comes to the foreground from the empty landscapes and space structures to symbolize the private, personal experience, which reality is doubtless and can’t be destructed by time.