Maksim Morgunov. Horizons
Erarta Museum presents an exhibition by Maksim Morgunov, the artist whose paintings reintroduce the sky as an awe-inspiring element
Landscapes imbued with the overwhelming power of elemental forces
Various states of the world taking shape in gushes of acrylic paint
Paintings reminiscent of time-lapse videos
When speaking of his art and interest in landscapes, Maksim Morgunov often uses the word ‘states.’ This does not imply atmospheric phenomena, but rather a special mood. For nearly a decade now Morgunov has been teaching at the Academy of Arts. Time and again, he takes his students sketching en plein air, where the wind, the heat, and the sense of the tide of life, born out of watching the light move across the surface of a stone or a tree crown, provoke a sensation of true oneness with nature. Morgunov manages to infuse his artworks with the power of elements – the dynamic force of an overwhelming, irreversible, and unfathomable process.
The exhibition at Erarta Museum offers a glimpse into several of Maksim Morgunov’s creative practices at once. His oil on canvas pieces betray the hand of a mature professional upholding the national landscape painting tradition. The main action scenes in Maksim Morgunov’s paintings are in the sky. And although nothing to thrill the eye is happening on the horizon, the sweeping meadow below the slowly progressing stormfront seems to radiate an ethereal light, while the half-withered desert plants touched by the sun resemble the remnants of an unknown civilisation. These paintings reintroduce the sky as an awe-inspiring element, equally capable of incinerating the viewer, blessing him with light, or refreshing him with water.
Working with acrylic, the artist splashes it over his canvases, attempting a laboratory recreation of the act of painting outdoors. Morgunov tackles the method with a determination of a surfer: indeed, his acrylic paintings evoke riding waves. The artist seems to be no longer in full control of what is happening within the picture frame, which lends his works an illusion of movement and energy of action. Guiding his streams of paint, Morgunov watches them take shape of the various states of the world which stays in perpetual motion regardless of the human will. The landscapes of the Novgorod Oblast, subtle and quietly expressive in their own way, take on the shape of psychedelic visions one has trouble focusing on: they carry the viewer along like a wild torrent. These paintings are in synch with the very rhythm of life, somewhat in the vein of time-lapse videos, in which film frames replace one another with dazzling frequency.
Maksim was born in Leningrad in 1981 and graduated from the Ioganson Art College in 1999 and the Russian Academy of Arts’ Repin Institute for Painting, Sculpture and Architecture in 2005 (class of Andrey Mylnikov). He currently teaches at the Repin Academy of Arts in St. Petersburg and is also the co-founder of the ProArt art school.
Morgunov is a member of the St. Petersburg Artists’ Union. In 2008 and 2010, he worked under commission to create the gallery of portraits of the Chairmen of the State Council of the Russian Empire and the Federation Council of the Federal Assembly of the Russian Federation. His artworks were exhibited in more than 100 shows in Russia and abroad and are currently in the private collection of Dmitry Medvedev, in the Federation Council and the State Duma of the Federal Assembly of the Russian Federation, as well as in numerous state and private collections across the world.