Absolute Painting

Absolute Painting
December 19, 2010 — March 21, 2011

A reproduction of Leonardo da Vinci's "Mona Lisa" on the wall of a village kitchen. A provincial version of Serebryakova's "Bathhouse" as a reminder of this summer's unprecedented 40-degree weather. An unusual herd of cows near Rublyovskoe Shosse. These served as the inspiration for artist Oleg Khvostov. His new exhibition, "Absolute Painting", opens at the end of December in the Gridchinhall gallery in the Moscow suburbs.

"Absolute Painting" consists of about 40 works on canvas, in oil and acrylic. The smallest painting is a mere 40х50 centimeters, while the largest is 1.5х2 meters. The exhibition will also feature a number of composite images created with acrylic paints on cardboard boxes.

A key part of the show will be the so-called "remakes" – the artist's interpretation of images from classical painting – from Leonardo da Vinci to Kiprensky. But Khvostov's aim is not to enter into a creative discussion with the great artists. For him these canvasses, or more accurately their reproductions, are source material, as birch trees and a river are to a provincial landscape painting. The remakes of the paintings by Leonardo are not being shown in the exhibition because the village of Dmitrovskoe is 30 kilometers closer to the Louvre than Moscow. Most likely it's because during a "pastoral period at Gridchinhall" Oleg Khvostov found a good album of reproductions. Also, the faces featured in his painted remakes are of the living, people the artist knows in real life. They too played a role in these works, just as an actor in the theater plays Hamlet or Richard III.

Most of the works for Absolute Painting were painted in the past six months in the Gridchinhall workshop. The paintings were done in a village, which influenced their themes. Oleg Khvostov is addressing the life and lifestyle of the locales surrounding Moscow. Take, for example, Leonardo's "Mona Lisa": almost every village kitchen had a reproduction of this picture from the then-Soviet journal "Ogonek". The interpretation of Zinaida Serebryakov's provincial "Bathhouse" is a remnant of the fierce 40-degree heat wave in July of this year. "Landscape with cows" appeared after going swimming in the Sheremetyevo Ponds near the Rublevo-Uspenskoe Highway.

The word "absolute" in the title of the exhibition could be seen as something pretentious. This is not the intended meaning here. Initially, painting – depicting forms on a surface using paint – took on an illustrative function. But with the advent of abstraction, it was freed from that. It is suggested, however, that it can obtain this freedom through illustration as well, and become, indeed, "Absolute Painting".
23 Ulitsa Tsentralnaya, Dmitrovskoe Village,
Krasnogorsky District, Moscow Region