Erarta Museum of Contemporary Art presented an exhibition by the BA.PROJECT artist collective revisiting the legacy of the Russian avant-garde of the 1910s–20s
Mysterious anonymous artists creating technically exquisite pictures on reflective surfaces
Visions of the traditional matryoshka dolls (including Russia’s one and only male matryoshka) with an unusual twist
References to the works of Kazimir Malevich, Vladimir Tatlin, Varvara Stepanova, and other important artists of the yearly 20th century
BA.PROJECT brings together several artists based in Russia, Europe, and Asia who prefer not to disclose their names in order to emphasise the intrinsic value of their creations. What they all share is an interest in the endless possibilities offered by contemporary technology.
The digitally created artworks presented at the Erarta show were printed on aluminium ‘canvases.’ This medium allows the artists to come up with intricate combinations of the planned and the accidental. The images appearing on the mirror-like surfaces are always unpredictable, incorporating the reflections of the viewers’ faces, interior views or other random details. The works of BA.PROJECT act as an allegory of colour, since its perception is always deeply subjective.
The pieces showcased in this exhibition were inspired by the Russian avant-garde of the 1910s–20s. For instance, the Red Blood series contains references to the Black Square and Red Cavalry by Kazimir Malevich, Dancer by Alexander Arkhipenko, Varvara Stepanova’s textile design experiments, and Vladimir Tatlin’s technical drawings. All works in the series explore the meaning of the blank space within the artwork. Desert and Mountains, Sky, and Mars, for their part, celebrate Wassily Kandinsky’s striving for a synthesis of art forms. Kandinsky identified every colour shade with a certain note or even a specific musical instrument, expecting that a viewer looking at his canvas would ‘hear’ its palette.
Why then has the Russian avant-garde made a comeback a century later? Its trailblazers have enriched the medium of painting not just with abstract forms, but also with structures reflecting the urgency of the present moment. As abstract art seems to have firmly established itself in the everyday, the artistic language of avant-garde once again inspires contemporary artists. The reflective surfaces of BA.PROJECT’s creations accommodate both abstraction and the present moment, which become intertwined in the mind of the viewer.