Kyiv . Ya Gallery Art Center
Master's Hand. Artists' Criminal Stories
05.10.2011 – 07.11.2011
Some years ago, consuming minimum of visual and historical information, we took part in a school ritual of artcriticism based on the myth of Beauty. While operating naked ecstatic phrases, teacher presented artist's shape as aunity of mind, beauty and kindness.
On the 5th of October, Ya Gallery to open Volodymyr Kostyrko's personal exhibition aiming to dethrone mythologizedromantic shape of an artist. Artist's hand holds the brush only during breaks from knife, bottle or revolutionary flag,says Volodymyr. He exposes private life of Caravaggio, Longhi, Cellini, Torrigiano and Perugino.
Without a doubt, the most notable of this five is Benvenuto Cellini - a serial killer and the author of his ownbiography. Cellini constantly appeared in a court for his perveted sexual relationships and thefts, he was found guiltyof three murders. Two of them (the jeweller and the notary) forced him escape to Naples, while the third one (thejeweller, who headed Chellini's pursuit) helped him. The new Pope Paul III gave him a paper of freedom - takingover his artistic freedom, of course. Chellini worked for the Pope until he robbed his treasury. In Kostyrko's picture,Benvenuto Cellini is painted with laurels of champion with Mona Lisa as an everlasting companion of his.
Almost as an antithesis to Cellini's biography stands the life of Pietro Perugino. An ordinary artist, a specialist,a genius of his time, a bit selfish and petty (according to Vasari, because of his non-Florentian descent) teacherof Raffaelo Santi. His real face is still criminal. In January 1486, Perugino together with Di Angelo, a painter fromPerugia, beat a stranger to death. Per curiam, Perugino was fined, while his mate life was sentenced to life-longimprisonment.
Pietro Torrigiano (a teacher of Michelangelo Buonarotti) is a fist fighter, of course. He doesn't need knives orbludgeons. The result of his most precise punch is noticeable in the portraits of Michelangelo (look at his nose), whilehis motion force, a strong fist, Kostyrko placed in the Duerers' coat of arms called "Arms of Torrigiano the Carver".
A story of Michelangelo Merisi de Caravaggio and Onorio Longhi links "Master's Hand" to the collaborative projectby Volodymyr Kostyrko, Eugene Ravski and Stanislav Perfetsky entitled "I Don't Like Fish". In that project, Kostyrkoplayed with the topic of a major subculture, the so-called ultras, now he's inviting audience to visit Italian footballmatch of XVII century. In 1606, right during the football match (Italian name "calcio") Caravaggio and his mates, oneof whom was Longhi, fell out with their foes and in a burst murdered a guy named Ranuccio Tomassoni. Murdered withthe same hand that had painted "Calling of Saint Mathew" and "Sacrifice of Isaac". Caravaggio's body is covered withtattoos by Durer.
Sharing the same space with Italian men some other works find their sense: "A Portrait of a Man with a Scull" and "TheBaroque Style". The men's head in "A Portrait of a Man with a Scull" appears not as an important portrait element butas a still-life death symbol. Baroque is a meaningfully black style, and thus expensive. As Peter Greenway would say,black colour reminds of death, which is always scarily interesting. The most expensive food is always black.
Introducing the phenomena of new old artists in Ukraine Volodymyr Kostyrko repeats Caravaggio's trick. Along withhis idea of exhumation of a four-day corpse (to make the precise portrait of revived Lazarus), Kostyrko cooperateswith the past to be precise in his relationship with the present. Such a metaphor can be controlled with a knife (likeCaravaggio was threatening his assistants with a knife to make them hold the corpse straight). A knife in Caravaggio'shand doesn't symbolise a brush, but is a knife. All the mystery of connection between a painter and a murdereris absent. "Titian painted having the sword attached to his belt. Every man needs a weapon to be able to protecthimself, his honour and honour of his relatives", says Kostyrko. This is a harsh realism. Just because it is exactly like itis, we have a space for metaphor looking at everyday modernity. Quite a muscular and skinhead modernity. Every dayon passing the groups of sporty guys I realize the artists are among us.
* Durer's press release for the "Monument to a Peasant" project.
**A Thesis from Greenway's "The Cook, the Thief, His Wife & Her Lover" (1989).