Artists include: Olga Grotova, Nika Neelova, Yelena Popova
As human lifespan keeps increasing, doubles of all the decades will occur. One could think of the ‘30s as the 2030’s or the 1930’s. In 1917 there was a Russian revolution. Russians still refer to it as ‘The revolution of the year seventeen’, but from this year it will mean both 1917 and 2017. Three artists in the show are drawn to this suggested doubling of history: a return to a fluctuating point in the past and reaching out to an illusive future. This suspended, circular, contemporary state of déjà vu gives rise to the idea of a reanimation of time.
Yelena Popova’s practice continually questions what painting can be and how it operates in contemporary conditions. The work pulls the histories of abstraction into sharper focus by magnifying the temporality of painting by exposing painting’s materiality. The recent Chemical Landscapes and Human Studies series pose a question of human endurance and presence. Popova’s slowly changing chemical reactions and shimmering images that withdraw into the canvas have an autobiographical reference to the secret town in the USSR, where Popova grew up – a centre of nuclear production and the site of a radioactive disaster.
The notion of the forbidden/secret zone had many connotations and meanings during the Soviet era. Like Tarkovsky’s film Stalker, Nika Neelova’s work is loosely based on the idea of a possible dissolution to our attachment to reality. Through exploration of the hypothetical future of geology the work exposes the modified ruins and techno-artefacts of a human dominated environment crossing various historical periods. The seemingly unearthed futile objects set against the movements of the earth and deep geological time. Exploring fluidity of matter through time, the work suggests the view of the world as a set of flows running in parallel to one another.
Just like in Olga Grotova’s video One, whose narrative is constructed around a kaleidoscopic timeline shuffling temporary planes inside a hermetic system, the initial false sense of continuity and historical references gradually brakes down. Three female characters question social relationships within their enclosed environments balanced between memory of the past and disintegrating memory of the future. Grotova’s works on canvas resemble action paintings, however, they deconstruct painterly gestures through mechanical methods of production and repetition. The use of screen-printing process and digital manipulations transform genuine marks into replicated fictions
Exhibition opening: 28 January – 25 March 2017
Address: Centrala, Birmingham, B5 5RT