An exhibition by Vadim Kommissarov presented at Erarta from May 14 to July 4
Vadim Kommissarov opens the Barbecue season in Saint-Petersburg with a small but very capacious exhibition, featuring works from his early years of passion, doubts and self analysis. Most of the works are from the “young” period, when he was mainly searching for inspiration in his own modest life experience and childhood dreams. His paintings seemed anachronisms even five years ago, reminding illustrations for science fiction novels from the Soviet youth magazines of the 80’s. Pop culture came up with the laconic definitions of such processes as using modular synthesis buzzing by Romantic sound engineers in creating their music for potential other planets’ dance floors. The oxymoron “retro-futurism” successfully conveys the sense of sentimental longing for something that has ended before it even started. The artist himself explains the topic of space in his works was emerged by the Soviet heroic myth that has only recently lost its magical power over the minds of children.
Vadim Komissarov’s fundamental creative theme is relationship between the personal and the collective memory. In the classic article “Collective and historical memory”, the French sociologist Maurice Halbwachs describes the common phenomenon: as soon as a child outgrows the age of pure sensual life perception and finds the interest in understanding the meanings of images around, we can say that he starts to think along with the others and his thinking splits into completely personal impressions and different collective thoughts. Looking at Komissarov’s paintings we face familiar visual language, which is absolutely not relevant anymore, but it is interesting and valuable as the original author's interpretation of the science fiction texts of the late twentieth century. Maurice Halbwachs, dealing with the memory studies, writes that the past doesn’t disappear, but gets stored unconsciously, and continues to live in people’s features, interiors and piles of old newspapers.
Looking closely at the reality, it is easy to make a trip into the past by means of familiar cultural phenomena. Something similar does the artist Komissarov, but the vector of his movement is aimed to the fictitious retro-futuristic future that will never come, but it has been already experienced by several generations of readers of the novel by Robert A. Heinlein “Orphans of the Sky”. The exhibition “Memory of the Earth” goals to remind us that the mysterious science fiction novel with the well-know plot, yet unacquainted to the viewer. Just like science fiction writers, Komissarov models some pre-industrial society in a state of a permanent picnic. A rusty grill, found in the backwoods, inspired the artist to creation of a certain cosmic Odyssey that presents us the sad result of habitable planets colonization.