press release

This project addresses a fundamental component of European culture: the Baroque era. Specifically it brings to the fore a cultural phenomenon that is not restricted by time or space or defined by categories of grand style, but is reflected in contemporary social and cultural processes. The events of today have a historical analogue: the Baroque era, with its inherent intonation and symptoms of planetary cataclysm, a rapid annihilation of the classical colonnade of international archetypes.

The collapse of the USSR, the debunking of the myth of American invulnerability, panic in even-headed London, Arab uprisings in Paris, the heart of European glamour: The planet has not fallen off its orbit - Russia is fat with oil, the United States with its ambitions of world hegemony, and old Europe with its insistent hallucination of universal values. Everything is in its place, but the old pace has been replaced by panic; the sum of the details alarms, yet promises nothing in particular. The masses came to life and moved, it would seem, from the places where they sat for a century. Classical projects approached a Rubicon whose vastness urged caution, and on the horizon burned the beacon of a new nomad and alien, who lifted into the air myriads of charged particles of 'managed chaos,' the intricate mastery of the Baroque.

On the level of the theory, the Baroque has been identified as the artistic style of an era, and all its inherent attributes took shape in the 16th - 18th centuries. The very term 'Baroque' was introduced to the vernacular by the Swiss theorists Wolflin and Burchhardt in the 19th century as a way of systematizing visual and semantic features. But in its universalism and archetypal potential, the Baroque goes beyond narrow categories of history and style, instead jiving with living intonations, the meanings of new social contexts and aesthetic systems. In practice, physical and internal features that somehow related to the Baroque 'canon' would appear in art during periods of unrest, whether late antiquity (both Greek and Roman Gothic), the Baroque itself in myriad national schools, or Art Nouveau with its sophistication, worldly yearning and play with the borders of life and death, illusion and reality.

Baroque is the style of capitals, grand and heavy, their decoration and pretense, their vanity and scale. Its ultimate ambition is a palace ensemble that brims with exaltation and excess, draped on a skeleton of the final colonnades of an extinct, measured and solid classicism. For it was the Baroque and its courtly trumpet that sounded the refrain of atomic dust as it monotonously sprinkled from classical porticos. Here the paranoid side of humanism shows itself, the transience of its concepts, motivations and stereotypes of protection, while progress aims at the next utopia. Stability provokes doubt, and above Catherine the Great's 'society portrait' some self-taught dauber tosses off a brutal portrait of Emelian Pugachyov, revealing a historical conceit: the antinomy of the pathos of excess corporeality and the ecstasy of the likely outcome. The Baroque knows the outcome and the pathos, and accepts mysticism, adapting it to the single genre of nature and morte, seeping from a cornucopia in the bitter syrup of moribund fruit, pining for the coming harvest of life.

Contemporary art has uncovered a new environment suitable for its time, determined by the tension between glamour and apathy. Art has acknowledged the pathos of being, that luxurious ceremony of references, and has stuck its wedge of innovations in the synthetic void of glamour, in its toy aggression, its dolly death. The antithesis of the poetics of the inexorable is the new passionary mytheme of ecstatic action and free will. Here at the intersection of two poles unfolds a monumental panorama of the Golden Age's enchanting illusion, which arose from history's breakdowns, and once again acts out the mystery play for the common good.

Alexander Petrovichev,(Krokin Gallery, curator)
Translated by Brian Droitcour