Maxim Ksuta’s artistic practice is extremely diverse, operating on the iterface of various media, including painting, drawing, photography, video, installation, as well as going far in terms of thematic variety, adding intellectual, scholarly, even almost scientific elements on top of the creative. The new project remains faithful to Maxim’s knack for serialised production, which enables a contemplative and consistent, almost lablike deep dives into the techniques and effects that are of interest to the artist. The new Architectonics exhibition comprises several series by the artist.
Projects by Ksuta have repeatedly addressed the links between the particular and the abstract. In his project The Expulsion dating back to 2007, the dense calligraphy and lettering produced emergent anthropomorphic figures, whereas the 2013 photo series CY, which was inspired by the art of Cy Twombly, had pictures of natural objects that were freely combined into natural abstractions. The Horizons series of canvases, based on EEG readings of the brain, transforms the brain waves into mountainscapes, whereby the outlines of mountain peaks are gradually dissolved in the pastel-coloured atmospheric fog.
The Tectonic Painting monochrome series was inspired by the projectionists of the Method Group and here the artist explores the intricacies of interaction between richly textured painting and the viewer’s gaze as a function of lighting effects and point of view. It’s hard to tell whether the audience becomes the subject of the experiment or the artist’s co-contributor. These works by Ksuta are much closer to canvases by Pierre Soulages who is obsessed with the idea of manifesting the substance of light than, for example, the sculpture-like canvas planes of Jason Martin’s black series. Unlike Soulages, however, Ksuta’s uninterrupted brushwork generates mirages of abstracted landscapes that depict sand dunes and futuristic cities.
The Shards of Memory series of objects features small, tabletop sculptures that emanate proper traits of monumental and even grand pieces. Carved in different stone varieties, these are almost like uncovered ancient artefacts, partially submersed in sand and partially washed out by time. It is hard to discern at first glance whether one is looking at some miniature mock-ups of sacred buildings or, similarly to Carroll’s Alice in Wonderland, has grown to immeasurable proportions after having taken the potion. This exhibition by Maxim Ksuta virtually places us into a Japanese Zen Garden, intended for meditation and connection with nature. As one’s eye glide over the wavy black surfaces of the Tectonic Series or examine the coarse surfaces of the miniature Shards, it is there, at the epicentre of an endless whirlpool of urban energies, where one actually feels the time freeze in the still crispy air, while the body is infused with calm and content. The magic in Maxim Ksuta’s work provides the viewer with a remarkable experience of an aware, evenly paced, lived moment in all its fullness, purity, and uniqueness.
My current practice focuses on paintings that interact actively with the ambient lighting due to their execution: monochrome (soot black) and textured uninterrupted brushwork. The brushwork structure is such that the painting plane interferes with and diffracts the light. This produces a visual effect of a fluid flow whenever the viewing angle is altered. Grouped ogether, these works are dedicated to the Method Group, an early-20th century members of the rojectionism movement.
‘The theme should be given such autistic expression and such mode of presentation that the viewer, when he perceives it, not only receives new knowledge of the system of modernity, but also undergoes new biomorphic processes, develops new mental systems, new systems for perception of the world’, the projectionists claimed. The idea that this completely different functional purpose for a painting is possible
inspired me to make the Tectonic Series.
As I continued to explore pseudoperiodic mosaics and fractals, I investigated aperiodic ornaments, the kind that do not form a repeated pattern on the wall. Then, the variations of scale came into play: massive ornaments can be seen at a distance whereas finer patterns, the comprising parts of the larger ones, can only be seen up close. In order to build each element, I was guided in the application and orientation of my brushwork based on Penrose tiling. The resulting structure appears threedimensional and changes dynamically depending on the angle of viewing. It is also not unlike the reference I used — muqarnas, a common element in traditional Arabic and Persian architecture.
The paintings, which look like aerial views, are in fact modified brain electroencephalograms. The curves were plotted by an EEG machine during a small experiment. The subject hooked up to the machine was shown panels colored in one of several earth tones, and the response of the nervous system to this stimulus was recorded. The signals corresponding to the tones were then used to paint the landscapes
Photo by Vladimir Peysikov
Imagine you’re dreaming, and in your dream you pick a flower in heaven, and then you wake up with the flower in your hand. Ah, what then? (Max Richter. From Natalie Johns’ Max Richter’s Sleep, 2019)
Where do we go every night when we close our eyes and drift to sleep? To the realm of misty dreams? Walk the winding roads of our unconscious? Do we see the future or the past? Or the present existing in parallel to here and now? What if dreams are a different reality that coexists with the one we know? And how can a third part of life, although passive, be deemed insignificant?
Sleeping is as important part of life as wakefulness. It affects our perception of reality and the phantom line between objective truth and the surreal world of visions and fantasies. Dreams and their nature still raise numerous questions and researching them is filled with various hypotheses that are yet to be scientifically confirmed or disproved. Dreaming and its many aspects is turned into a subject of artistic reflection in the exhibition narrative.
A Wave of Dreams unites works by 32 artists. Referring to the ancient tradition of dream interpretation, some participants find in them warnings and prophecies. Others explore the borderline state between dream and reality as a paranoid feeling of losing touch with reality. In some cases, the memories of the past switch places with dreams, as if emerging from each other; in others the visions of the future bleed through like recurring stress dreams. Sometimes metaphysical images come up like accidental visions. The artists turn to memory archives, feelings of déjà vu and dream journals. Through the works we invite the viewers to enter an extraordinary world of fantastical images, nightmares and drifting dreams. A Wave of Dreams will become the border zone between wakefulness and dreaming in which objective reality is no longer dominant, giving way to illusion.
“Bodhichitta” Lao rosewood, billiard ball, carving. 2020
My objects from the series “Exile from Paradise” 2006\2007 in the film “AJI” directed by Anastasia Berezovsky, 2018
At the Fringes is an exhibition organized by the Department of Research Arts, a center for artistic research projects focused on the Russian territory. This new project shows the life at the fringes and in the border territories of Russia, where fringes are not exclusively state borders but also natural boundaries, land areas, divides and limits of space.
Areas that have been historically considered “remote”, “disconnected,” “isolated,” become especially interesting in today’s society as the means of communication have been organically integrated into the human ecosystem and transformed our perception of space. The fringes are closer than ever now but still remain somewhat distant. These can be spaces well within the country’s landmass as well as border territories.
Cohesiveness of space, in Russia and globally, is not uniform which produces modern forms of geographic inequality. The non-uniformity can be observed as some parts of the country are better known while others remain “uncharted territories”; the project takes this disparity as its starting point.
The exhibition opens with documentary projects where each presents an interpretation of archival or documentary records (photographs, official documents, sketches, field notes, video) covering a fringe region.
A stand-alone part of the project is its “permanent exposition.” It comprises painting and photography that recreate the image of a fringe with varying degrees of visual approximation. Complementing it, there is a library section that offers insights into the history of the Russian space and its landmark social, philosophical and artistic concepts.
In the third part of the exposition, the acoustic experience is just as important as the visual. The audience is immersed into the fringe space through installations and objects.
The project is supported by the Presidential Grants Foundation.
ZAPOVEDNIK research group