Erarta Museum presented an exhibition by Vasiliy Slonov full of provocative and succinct visions of things inherently Russian
- First St. Petersburg solo show of the well-known troublemaker in the Russian art scene
- Postmodern version of visual folklore
- Art objects incorporating unusual materials and channelling grotesqueness and absurdity
Vasiliy Slonov is a well-known troublemaker in the Russian art scene and a trailblazer of the Siberian ironic conceptualism. Following his idiosyncratic way, he creates both diminutive ready-mades and large-scale public art invading urban environments. The artist himself is a walking piece of performance art, mockingly impersonating a bearded Siberian ignoramus brandishing an axe in the crystal menagerie of Postmodernism. Vasiliy was in fact born amid the taiga, in the same village of Shushenskoye where Vladimir Lenin spent the greater part of his Siberian exile. Back in the Soviet times, to celebrate the revolutionary leader’s centenary, a picture gallery was opened in Shushenskoye together with an art school later attended by Slonov. Perhaps both the ironical bathos of the artist’s statements intended to subvert stereotypes and his knack for repurposing objects and discovering their archetypal qualities are derived from his childhood impressions of being overexposed to ideological clichés.
Slonov’s artworks are more like thought-forms than things to be admired for their appearance. They often incorporate unusual materials (like metal, cotton wool or bricks) and marry the opposites, in most cases involving grotesqueness and absurdity. The artist’s creations are not mere provocations, but rather succinct visions of something inherently Russian, as if stemming from the chthonic depths of Siberia. It won’t be too far of a stretch to say that Slonov’s art is akin to a postmodern version of visual folklore. Indeed, it encapsulates the primeval forces of the Russian folk absurdism.
Inherently Russian at Erarta is Vasiliy Slonov’s first solo show in St. Petersburg, although in the past he took part in many domestic and international exhibitions, notably in Krasnoyarsk, Perm, Moscow, Cologne, Passau, and Miami. The exhibition showcases more than 30 artworks, including pieces from the Imperial Kokoshniks, Dust and Emptiness, The Life of Insects, and The Jingoists of the Apocalypse series. The viewers are in for a provocative and whimsical interactive experience.