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State of the Art

Above: Enter. Stage left. VA Shimanovskaya 2016

The reason I've decided to post this article first published in 2015 in NoBarking aRt magazine's issue entitles Senses and Desires is that if things have changed since then, they haven't changed for the better. If anything, they haven't changed at all.

The discourse is still steeped in the 20th century postmodern constructions and deconstructions, semi-socialist and other utopias. The wash-water is flowing abundantly, but where is the baby?

Surely, these swiping generalizations would require a deeper dive into the particulars, but, for the time being, this gallery or visual art depository is being launched to capture and enumerate the instances of the reality that is a matter of art.

The statement should be made of where I stand and what for. What follows is between the artist and the effort of enlarging the audience for the genre that is of our time and space. It is passion and curiosity that drives us to our discoveries, and that was what drove our predecessors to theirs.

They were both wrong, or the poetry of the senses.

by VAShimanovskaya

Famous Picasso-Duchamp argument seemed to underpin all the struggles and developments of the 20th century art. “If only we could pull out our brain and use only our eyes” the quote attributed to Picasso is diametrically opposed to Duchamp’s “I was interested in ideas, not in visual products”[1]. Modern, and then contemporary art has drifted from pictorial, ‘visual products’ to the unending flow of commentaries and witticisms.

“And he was wrong” – said Pablo about Marcel, but neither Picasso, no Duchamp considered another dimension of art, to which both the eye and the brain are only the attributes. The dimension, from which Art itself sprang, and which it was serving for thousands of years. That is human spiritual quests, the development of one’s own essence, and its relationship to the rest of the world and human society. These types of inquires deal with one’s identity, its relationship with the surroundings, negotiation of time and space, posing and answering life and death questions, too poignant to be resolved by an ironic remark. Even pondering these questions requires the heightening of the senses, the kindling and masterful growing of desires, which then provide guidance to the never-ending circles and spirals of new experiences and knowledge of the invisible that is perceived through senses in our visible world.

This is what my practice is about. In that space of the insatiable curiosity for life I am hoping to meet my audience. When the senses are strung they resonate. They resonate with nature, environment, thought, other creatures, art, music, and literature.

The interplay of red and red, swirling metal coils, 3-d rope lyre ­painting, installations orchestrated in space the way that that makes the space sing, the individual features of the crudely hewn ceramic masks assembled into a syncopated frieze – all this multiplicity has a single purpose: to awaken one’s senses. I believe that art’s primary generative reason is to resonate and create the sense of empathy.

I aspire to engage hearts and souls of my viewers and fill the cold vessel of the rational with the bewilderment of senses: the senses of joy and sadness, love and loss, and the sense of belonging to this imperfect world of ours, however painful it may be. My art is about the joy of unresolved and unresolvable complexity of life, and desire for delight and rapture. Who can rationalize happiness? Who can rationalize desire?

Just as in music where composition, the relationship between parts, pace and timing, create the sense of harmony or disharmony, accord or discord, mine is the task of measured assembly of the elements that I make anew. Visual drama, tension and contrast between materials, textures, position in space, content references – all of this – to borrow from Bakhtin create heteroglossia of my art practice.

I believe art is neither visual nor just intellectual; it is spiritual and thus polyphonic, just as life itself. Sorry dear Maestros, you were both wrong. As Bill Arning once remarked: “The perception that any observable phenomenon is finite and fully comprehensible is only the result of lazy viewing habits. Visual reality is inexhaustible”.[2]


[1] The fact that the seminal work of the 20th century art Fountain wasn't created by Duchamp but rather Baroness Elsa von Freytag-Loringhoven to then be attributed to Duchamp 10 year after her death is also fundamental for understanding the nature of art mythology, but this is a subject for another story.

[2] Bill Arning. “Transformative Vision”, Parkett 76. 2006.

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