On June 7 Orehov Gallery unveils Selena, a new exhibition by a young sculptor Kirill Chizhov. While his name won’t say much to Moscow art aficionados, Kirill boasts long years of practice at academic Alexander Rukavishnikov workshop and an impressive record of group projects. Selena, Chizhov’s first solo show, is based on his observations of moon phases. For the artist who elaborates on the subject of life cycles, comparing birth and death to sunrise and sunset, a woman represents an infinite cycle of a beginning, an end and a new beginning.
Kirill Chizhov isn’t afraid of scale which is surprising fora young sculptor who has gone through the Russianschool still characterized either by excessivenaturalism, or by superfluous expression, or byredundancy of details. His new works are portraits of people that are narrative rather than rhythmic. In theage of overall dull compositions and sloppy lines, thisexhibition shows us clearly drawn figures that areanything but flabby. Instead of illustration, we seeplasticity. Instead of motivation by storyline we see
constructive ideas. Instead of small craft, we see a comprehensive solution. Instead of descriptive style, we see an epic one. Instead of “similarity”, we see a one of a kind image. His casts are monumental by their objective, rather than by their dimensions. Masterfully built silhouettes, bouncy bodies seem tense regardless of their static character thanks to clear hand gestures. Chizhov’s statues come alive with a sense of internal action.
Poetic interpretation of geometric forms allows the author to renounce «psychology». And this renunciation is curious because it gives Chizhov a possibility to steer away from staging and towards plastic drama. It’s not the face that reveals the personality of his characters but their dynamic postures. Their heads remindful of Brancusi’s ellipses attached to average bodies are interpreted in the style of Italian neorealism. The preferred use of shaggy surface without thorough polishing appears justified, as such “breathing” texture brings the object alive and in no way makes it difficult to comprehend the work. A girl standing with arms akimbo evokes The Ice Skater by Giacomo Manzu. Nevertheless, while Manzu or Emilio Greco orFrancesco Messina turned towards the basics of modern sculpture learning directly from Renaissance, Chizhov digs even deeper into the past and goes all the way back to the Egyptian motives that served as the foundation of the European art. His woman frozen on a chair copies the posture of Hatshepsut on her throne. Her triangle-shaped hair appears like a schematic image of neret, an Egyptian headdress. An ancient idol is looking at us through the image of our contemporary.
Mythology never dies, but rather takes a different shape. Isis (whose name means “throne”) returns in a modern shape. While an epic theme requires a mythological interpretation, this work presents us a rather “smoothed” mythological image showing no more than just hints to any corresponding attributes. Round earrings of the main statue hint to a lunar deity. Like night follows day, sunset follows dawn, so birth is followed by death and transformation. Representative of this ancient dualism of life on earth are two opposing colors – black and golden. This mythological depiction of our Universe is centered on a woman, an entity that gives origin to life.
Simple geometry was already common in Egyptian sculpture. Slight differences in clearly defined shapes allowed to vary and interpret them in a multitude of ways throughout millennia. Egyptian minimalism is grounded in the shapes of human body, rather than in abstract geometry. One of the most archaic traits of Egyptian art is its high propensity for generalization. Kirill Chizhov can be called a neorealist if by realism we mean an ability to talk about a human being without denying human body and its natural movements and by neo – an aspiration towards generalization that goes beyond Verismo or realistic sculpture. Nevertheless, it would be best to define it as archaic realism.