Dnipropetrovsk. Ya Gallery Art Center
Pulse Of Africa
06.06.2014 – 31.07.2014
African sculptures and masks/ Tamara Babak /Oleksandr Korol / Mykola Malyshko / Anna Mironova / Andriy Khir
Exhibition "Pulse of Africa" starts with a familiar rhyme from our childhood (and because of that seemingly "not so serious"), written on a work by Oleksandr Korol: "Ne khodite deti v Afriku guliat" ("Children, don't go to Africa..."). However, without a doubt, it is a warning on the verge of one, more or less familiar world, and another - with a different pressure, a separate rhythm and its own culture of visuality.
There is an African tale that can (if it is possible at all) prepare (or rather "push" or "loosen") us for the exhibition. It is a story of a family of blind people - a husband, a wife and their mothers - whose life was so hard that they decided to go on a journey in search of a better life. Later, on the road, the husband came upon a discovery - seven eyes. He and his wife tried them on and recovered their sight. Each mother got an eye, and the seventh remained spare, forcing the protagonist reflect who he should give the last eye - to his mother or to his mother-in-law? The tale ends with an open question: what would you do? This brings the viewer into stupor, because not only the choice of "who sees" is left without an answer. Not only the procedure of preparing to this choice is surprising, but a significant reproach: as if we are always getting ready to see, instead of just seeing.
Curator Pavlo Gudimov considers the distance a component of the exhibition: "Nothing could be further from Africa, but there is also nothing closer". According to him, the idea was born in a conversation with Mykola Malyshko, as they discussed historical simultaneity of such phenomena as negritude, art deco and jazz.
A broad embodiment of the talk is the "Pulse of Africa" - a territory of a dialogue between Ukrainian and African art, rather than simple parallelism. The starting point and the original matrix in this dialogue are the African masks and sculptures from the private collection of Pavlo Martynov. Lost among ancient cults and modern art auctions, deprived of their authentic function and sprinkled with museum gloss, prevented from any acts of wild spirits, they create the game room for five artists.
Mykola Malyshko enters into an almost direct discussion with the plastics of the black continent - master of wooden sculpture, seeker of "negritude Ukrainian-style", as he was called after the project "Sculpture" (2011). Even then Malyshko spoke of a certain "tradition of African peoples" that gives sculpture laconism, robustness and simplicity, which is contrary to European technological effectiveness, leaving only the "fundamental" ways of thinking. Two of his works - the new "Dark" and the old "Black Tree" manifest this minimalism.
Instead, Anna Mironova does literary nothing "African", but somewhere outside her paintings there is a feeling of relentless equatorial sun. In burns into the shadows, highlights the voids, focusing the view on the metamorphosis of the mask-space, face-landscape, referring to the ancient African beliefs that even the Sun once used to be human. Tamara Babak's objects balance over the abyss between the sacred things, household objects, museum artifacts and works of art. Wicker that could be listed as an indispensable element of worship, finds itself in a state of axiological uncertainty, leaving us only with the craft.
Andriy Khir's new works from unfinished series "Demonology" and eponymous to the entire exhibition work by Oleksandr Korol are reminiscent of spirits. Both Khir and Korol open a secret drawer, full of residents from the other world, monolithic half-humans half-animals that are equal to animal-people that inhabit folk worldview. The former does this through Hutsul narratives, creating a system of wills, ceremonial arches, prohibitions and beliefs. The latter shows us the results from the heart of Africa itself: flaming boars, anthropomorphic animals, torn (by a beast or by artistic representation) individuals who at their last breath urge viewers to "Not for the World" go to Africa.
Nevertheless, the essential fact of art history is a path in a diametrically opposite direction - where Africa comes to us. And if in Europe, there is a certain opportunity to enter these "dialogues" of the cultures of visuality, then "Pulse of Africa" becomes the first attempt at reflecting on this "invasion" in Ukraine. Reflecting on now not so strange words of Pablo Picasso to posing Gertrude Stein after which the fate of European at substantially changed: "I no longer see you when I look at you". Reflecting in a cool hideout of a gallery space, but to to the hot rhythms of James Brown's "Hot".