Kyiv. Ya Gallery
Ukraine: Apogee of Surrealism
19.12.2018 – 14.01.2019
Let's imagine the choice that museum workers in ХХІІ century will face when reviewing and studying the cultural heritage of the poorly explored beginning of ХХІ century – how to properly distribute some cultural artefacts between the historical and art fields. When they get around to the needlework of Bozhena Chaharova who has already embroidered her name in her works and is doomed to presence in art, it is going to be quite simple. Her embroidery will be most likely referred to the historical theme since Bozhena Chaharova records the socio-political and cultural changes of our strange period. I'm not sure that researchers of the future will consider the time-consuming and diligent embroidery technique and simplified artistic imagery to fall within the art space because, in ХХІІ century, it will become the main international language of 'post-emoji generations.' And the quotes from magazines, newspapers, TV programs and books that she uses in her works document the absurdity of the present time.
What Bozhena does? Why there is an avalanche-like interest around her works as soon as they appear in the media? Why do the texts about her already win prizes at art criticism contests? Why are professionals confused when it comes to the author's unprofessional artistic basis?
What phenomenon is it?
Over a decade ago, in a discussion with the researches of the country naïve art, I distinguished the phenomenon of the new urban unprofessional art and called it the 'new naïve.' Having separated from the country foundation, the naïve mutated and sometimes assumed the shape of neo-expressionism, sometimes – post-conceptualism, and sometimes transitioned to the stable plane of the topical art. All this dissolved the phenomenon and merged it with the traditions of the contemporary art which also had an urban yet more often academic basis. But Bozhena's appearance upset my applecart. Living in a small village in Zhytomyr region, she chose the information channels for herself that, whether she trusts them or not, she uses to form the post-media-style portrait of the modern country.
'It takes me at least three months to create my standard embroidery by a specific sketch which cannot be changed, that is no improvisation is possible. Embroidery is pixels of a “dialectic matrix",' as Bozhena describes her art. The pixels that take a lot of time yet lead to the result which it is hard to find the place for in our current cultural coordinates system.
A text and symbols form a single picture of intentionally simplified information and imagery everyone of us is a part of. It looks like everything is mixed but only until you see a complete cycle or series, because then you understand that Bozhena's scenario is absolutely integral. And you won't hear any presumptuous advisers say something like: 'And it would be better to…'
Who is she? Why has nobody heard of Bozhena yet, although she has been embroidering devotedly and daily her works that her father brought himself or sent as photographs to Mystetskyi Arsenal, PinchukArtCentre, Korrespondent magazine, Osnovy Publishing? Why have curators, journalists or editors never responded to him?
Why has nobody ever offered him an exhibition or at least a small promotional publication?
When dealing with the phenomenon of the topical naïve art, we should recognize it and try not to be afraid of non-typical presentation. And that is where we have a problem. We can get used to any strong manifestation of the professional art, while the sincere manifestation of a 'non-artist' makes us feel uncomfortable and embarrassed, as if we are peeping at the real people living their life. As a curator, I've come across such an attitude among professionals quite a lot. Is our society ready to perceive Bozhena's works? Of course it is! It is desired for many meaningful and technical reasons (embroidery is still the most popular art therapy among Ukrainians). Are the institutions ready to exhibit her artwork? I honestly admire Bozhena Chaharova and want to demonstrate her first personal exhibition in Ya Gallery Art Center.