Kyiv. Ya Gallery Art Center
01.02.2017 – 27.02.2017
Since the painters had parted their ways with the Guild of Physicians and Pharmacists, creating their own institution, the Accademia del Disegno, to separate themselves from doctors, pain has become a major issue in art. The moment a separation like this occurs, pain transcends physical boundaries to become a mental matter which avoids precise definitions. Causing pain or enduring it, yearning to get away from suffering or giving in to spleen, what one says about pain is only clear when it takes on this form: '. . . I say “I felt a pain in my arm" without this locality coming into my consciousness in any other way (such as by means of an image).'* What is an image capable of, then?
In her new project, Albina Yaloza tells a story of pain through printing on shawls, the act which transfers her into a pocket realm of religious art. After the exhibitions Beyond (Ya Gallery, Kyiv, 2014) and Linocut (UCU Contemporary Art Gallery, Lviv; Chernivtsi Regional Museum of Art/Sweetарт – Znannia Gallery, Chernivtsi, 2015) in which Yaloza presented her personal view on the main Gospel messages using the back sides and fragments of surviving wooden sculptures as prototypes, the artist shifts the focus from the set of canonical stories to everyday Christianity. In contemporary art, where “the religious meaning of an artwork is being ignored or dismissed as something too intimate to be discussed"**, Yaloza hides, singles out, and separates parts of an image in such a way that its religious meaning could be left out, should the need arise. Though, this meaning is still there.
Ex-votos and elements of medieval symbols serve as prototypes for prints on shawls (coloured or white) and paper (white on white). Tamata first appeared in Yaloza's works during an exhibition for the German-Ukrainian project At a Crossroads (Schafhof Künstlerhaus, Freising, Germany, 2016). Everything from the stone body parts brought to the temples of Asclepius to modern effigies and images addressing the Saints—these are the objects which materialise the story of pain in the most specific form possible; eyes hang from nerves like bizarre flowers, thanking for their sight; ears, left unharmed, listen to each other. In the meantime, the medieval symbols which take on meaning only in a context, are put in a self-sufficient position and suspended in-between. In the same way, coloured shawls are far from embodying the precise meaning, referring only to the coexistence between pop art and applied arts.
For all the components—shawls, tamata, fragments, colours—awaits a different context. Shawls in the exposition hide the found objects: photographs, prints, X-rays, legal documents, newspapers, books, and fairy tales. Everything here revolves around personal pain or is an attempt to come to terms with the experience of the social pain trail. The trail of pain which strikes again and again through the artist's archives, works of Zinovii Tolkatchev (Auschwitz, Kyiv, 1965), Mykola Popov (Mykola Popov by Valentyna Ruban, Kyiv, 1985), and Volodymyr Kutkin (Prints of Volodymyr Kutkin by Ihor Buhaienko, Kyiv, 1968). This way a shawl presents us with three different ways of seeing it: it encourages the viewer to uncover a hidden object, it shows an artwork on its surface, and, finally, it references the head on which women usually wear shawls in Ukraine. Ferocious things happen under cover.
All in all, the exhibition is an outline of the possibility to capture pain as an image; it's a complicated open structure, the incompleteness of which seems obvious both to the observer and the artist. The viewer is presented with a branching trajectory and a task to put everything together. It's as if for this sole purpose the Ukrainian dictionary presents us with a proverb under the word pain: "She was walking around the mountain whitening the pain".
Curators: Pavlo Gudimov, Borys Filonenko
* Ludwig Wittgenstein. On Certainty, 417
**Джеймс Элкинс. О странном месте религии в современном искусстве. Пять историй // Mode of access: http://www.colta.ru/articles/raznoglasiya/11681