Wonderland

Дивокрай

2008-2010
series of paintings
серія картин

“Wonderland” is a series of large-format canvases which depict the “idyll” of picturesque Carpathian Mountain scenery, young gymnasts and contemporary buildings. “Wonderland” explores the transformation of our society and its potential influence on contemporary culture. The Carpathians are at once a metaphor and the actual object of my attention.

Searching for the image of the “ideal Ukrainian painting,” I combined a panoramic view of the mountain ridge with a group of dancing gymnasts. On the one hand, the lively athletes should accentuate the rhetoric of these monumental canvases; on the other, their incongruity in the given landscape evokes personal associations of a musical, where unexpectedly, in the middle of a tense scene, the main characters begin singing and dancing. With time, this feeling of dissonance provided the impulse to add another dimension to my project. 

Today the Carpathians are symbols of “model Ukrainian land” as far as the preservation of national folk traditions is concerned. The particular increase in the area’s rating can be attributed to the considerable attention of Ukraine’s political and business elite. As I work to analyze the emergence of new “patriotic” myths, I notice how drastically the configuration of Ukrainian space is changing against the backdrop of this “cultural façade.”

A new type of architectural form has appeared: private villas, hotels, resorts. Following neoliberal construction principles, these buildings appear unsystematically, imposing a new pattern on the familiar landscape. And the characteristic peaked roofs, which line up one after the other in an attempt to mimic the silhouette of the mountain range, merely ironically highlight their estrangement from their surroundings. 

While I was studying in art school, I painted Carpathian landscapes countless times. These were trifling variations within the confines of the canon: meadow-forest-cabin. I think that is precisely how the Carpathians are imagined in the collective consciousness. 

In a recent trip to the Carpathians, I was struck by billboards showing collages intended to make the scenery more spectacular, but which instead deform the landscape to such a degree that the viewer loses all sense of reality. Three different scenes are “stitched” together, and for some reason the Alps appear in the background… I see these local billboards as an attempt by local residents, who are direct participants in the flurry of construction, to grasp all this chaos in one big picture. In other words, to systematize the cacophony.

In my paintings I portray real architectural structures that look “cut out” like in digital architectural models. In a sense, this way I turn back time to the imaginary public presentation of these “models.” I try to look at the fragmentary neoliberal construction as a centralized “utopian” project. 

The “architecture” of acrobats’ bodies and real architecture are interrelated, but with the distinction that bodies stand still for only a moment, and buildings, for years. By combining the incompatible, I want to discuss the relativity of any criteria in our society and about the struggle of visual forms and meanings within this field of relativity.

Another part of this project consists of landscapes that I found on Internet sites selling land. These ordinary fragments of nature, captured by the camera lens by chance, all have the characteristics of “lots for sale”: location, area, etc. As I transform these images into paintings, I try to formulate for myself the difference between the feeling of “landscape” and “territory.” This way, I take one more step back in time, to the moment before any new architectural elements appeared in the space. 

 

Серія картин “Дивокрай” виникла як результат спостереження за українським ландшафтом, простори якого змінюються разом із стрімкою та хаотичною приватизацією та будівництвом. Вже існуючі споруди я зображую як дигітальні макети, виявляючи конфлікт між проектуванням та швидким будівництвом. На виставці представлені фрагменти з Гурзуфа та Закарпаття.

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