The MEP opens a retrospective of one of the most influential photographers from Eastern Europe, Boris Mikhailov
Curated thematically slightly than chronologically, the MEP display outlines the evolution of Mikhailov’s occupation. It highlights early sequence equivalent to Black Archive (1968–1979), Luriki (1971–1985) and Dance (1978) – for which he received the Hasselblad Award in 2000 – and later works created after the fall of the Soviet Union, equivalent to Case History (1997–1998) and Temptation of Death (2017–2019). While the political overtones of his paintings turn into louder later in his occupation, the not unusual thread – from the overdue Nineteen Sixties to the 2000s – is his interest for the mundane and surprising moments of day by day lifestyles in and round Kharkiv.
One of the most hanging works integrated in the exhibition is titled National Hero. It specializes in the artist’s “most necessary aesthetic inventions” in a non-chronological order. A self portrait of the identical title, created as section of the eponymous sequence in 1991, when Ukraine had turn into an impartial country following Gorbachev’s resignation and the dissolution of the USSR, ‘National Hero’ [the image] depicts the younger artist in army garb. A Ukrainian folks embroidery has changed the standard Soviet army insignia on his chest, and he stands towards a washed-out crimson background, his lips rouged as though dressed in makeup.
In nowadays’s context, this portrait speaks powerfully to the fraught but entwined army histories of Ukraine and Russia, but in addition comically disrupts the solemnity and machismo of the authentic headshot. “Art can compromise an ideology through aesthetic approach,” Mikhailov as soon as mentioned – a commentary encapsulating his time table throughout six many years of paintings. By manipulating the symbol, the artist references the Soviet custom of retouching images beneath Stalin’s regime (ceaselessly to vary the ancient narrative), but in addition parodies the artificiality and garishness of the Socialist Realist palette. The DIY-effect of his images undermines the formal instructing of the medium that propped up an ideological device, during which the ‘actual’ and representational had been carefully tied to propaganda. By distinction, Mikhailov’s photographs – charged with irony and humour – weaponise imperfection. They are intentionally ‘unhealthy’, indifferent from the actual, and unapologetically kitsch, low-contrast, blurry, mistaken and ceaselessly published on poor-quality paper. In the artist’s phrases: “If images prior to now aspired to technical perfection, in my paintings unhealthy high quality turned into an purpose.”
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