Van O. Pan-opticum

24 November 2022 — 19 February 2023
  • Van O. Pan-opticum

Erarta Museum presented an exhibition by the Moscow based photographer Van O whose pictures explore transformative moments

  • Artworks fusing science, theatre, and photography

  • Static images bursting with inner dynamics and tension

  • Photographs featuring characters in continuous metamorphosis


The Pan-opticum exhibition showcases 28 artworks from the Werewolves series created by Van O (aka Ivan Isayev) over the past 15 years. All images are imbued with a sense of movement crucially important to the photographer: even in seemingly static genres, such as still life, he manages to reveal inner dynamics and tension and create the illusion of documenting some pre-modelled situation. Each photograph is like a small stage show condensed into a still frame of maximum intensity.

The project’s protagonists are mythological, religious, and artistic characters displaying protean qualities. The artist sets them amid a fluid environment in which they go through unceasing metamorphoses, losing and regaining their features, changing their physical appearance, swapping historical and social roles, masks, and countenances. Transformation is the core of their being. ‘Back in the years when I was at the University, majoring in Entomology at the Biology Department, I spent a lot of time studying the complete and incomplete metamorphosis of insects,’ comments the photographer. ‘With its documentary charm, photography allows me to fuse my academic, theatrical, and design-related backgrounds into a single artwork. In the process, I would sometimes use multiple exposure and quite often incorporated outside images into the frame, like prints, scientific diagrams and engineering drawings on various media, such as paper, fabric, or transparent film.’ Captured on wide format black and wide film, Van O’s pictures resemble collages with their mesmerising transitions from three-dimensional to linear imagery.

about the artist
Van O (Ivan Isayev) was born in Moscow in 1975, graduated from the Biology Department of the Lomonosov Moscow State University, and went on to complete Gennady Abramov’s course at the School of Dramatic Arts Theatre. In addition to pursuing an acting career at the Costume Mysteries and Dance Model theatres, Ivan has been active as an art photographer since 1999. In 2009, he joined the Photo Artists’ Union of Russia, and in 2015, the Creative Union of Russian Artists. His artworks were acquired by the Russian Museum, Moscow Museum of Modern Art, as well as private collectors. Van O currently lives and works in Moscow.

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