Van O. Pan-opticum

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

Erarta Museum presents 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

  • An artist whose works are kept in the permanent collection of the Russian Museum


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, processed with toners, and printed on colour photographic paper, Van O’s shots resemble collages with their mesmerising transitions from three-dimensional to linear imagery.

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