Curated by Andrey Egorov and Anna Arutyunyan.
Fragment Gallery presents a solo exhibition by the young Russian artist Alexey Martins. His path in art he began four thousand kilometres from the capital: Alexey graduated from Surikov Art College in his native Krasnoyarsk before moving to Moscow and continuing his education in the Free Workshops at MMOMA. In 2015, Martins got on the short list of the Kandinsky Prize in the nomination “Young Artist. Project of the Year” for a joint performance with the artist Igor Lazarev entitled How to tell about the art of the Siberian city. In 2017, Martins took part in the Main Project of the Moscow International Biennale of Contemporary Art.
Martins works with a peculiar range of materials, media and themes that reveal the complex relations between civilization and nature. He makes recognizable, striking and enigmatic zoomorphic sculptures from old used wooden boards, which recall both the wild forest and the warmth of the abode. He creates monochrome graphic works with acrylic paint and graphite pencil. Martins considers his works in different media, including works made for public spaces, to constitute a closely interconnected socio-aesthetic project on environmental disaster, the ambivalent status of man in the system of organic life, regional identity and the uniting potential of art.
The origins of the works presented at the exhibition lie in the large-scale collective performance Being Together organized by Martins at the Archstoyanie Festival in summer 2017. In the picturesque valley of the river Ugra near the village of Nikola-Lenivets, the artist arranged a hundred of his wooden animals on rough knotty pedestals and invited the audience to light this unusual “firewood”. The art, created and sacrificed, became a powerful source of physical warmth for a time, and the image of blazing fires that warmed the attending crowd – a memorable and, at the same time, alarming and totemic metaphor for the unsatisfied striving for solidarity in our era of isolation and frustration.
The energy from the burnt sculptures, transformed into “mental fuel”, gave impetus to Martins’ new project. Three installations are shown at the exhibition in Fragment Gallery, constituting three alternative art forms. In them, Martins takes different approaches to his key idea of combining thermodynamic and social heat, moving freely from one medium to another, as if exposing materials to alchemical transmutations.
This is a sculptural model of a public monument, combining the characteristic figure of the animal made of old boards that have darkened over time and a minimalist light object – a source of artificial fire. This is a series of colour pictures that compare the pictorial codes of modernist abstraction with the natural patterns of organic life, namely the reproduction of molds. Finally, it is a graphical composition that is made directly on the white walls of the gallery and captures the laconic urban skyline – an ephemeral “landscape of recycling”. Exploring each of these plastic alternatives, the artist becomes an “agent” of both culture and nature. He uncovers their hybrid organic identity and inexorable disunity, making art itself both possible and so necessary for us.
Alexey Martins (born 1989) is an artist and curator. He graduated from the Faculty of Painting at the Krasnoyarsk Art College and the Free Workshops (MMOMA). Martins works with a wide range of media from graphic art to installations, examining the problems of social interactions and collective thinking, as well as the role of art in building society and their mutual influence. In 2015, Martins got on the short list of the Kandinsky Prize in the nomination “Young Artist. Project of the Year” for his joint performance with the artist Igor Lazarev entitled How to tell about the art of the Siberian city. The artist’s portfolio includes over two dozen group exhibitions and four solo shows. He has participated in the 3rd Moscow Biennale of Young Art, the Archstoyanie 2017 International Festival of Landscape Objects, and the Main Project of the 7th Moscow Biennale of Contemporary Art. The artist’s works are at the Krasnoyarsk Museum Center and in private collections. In 2017, Alexey Martins won a contemporary art grant from Ruinart Art Patronat.
Andrey Egorov (born 1984) is an art critic and curator. Since 2012, he has been Head of the Scientific Department of the Moscow Museum of Modern Art (MMOMA) and a corresponding member of the Russian Academy of Arts. He graduated with honours from the Department of the History and Theory of Art at Moscow State University in 2006. He has written a guide to the MMOMA collection entitled The Art of New Media (Moscow: Meier, 2014). He was a member of the expert council of the 6th Moscow International Biennale of Young Art in 2017. Andrey is also a member of the artistic committee of the Pernod Ricard Fellowship 2018 (Villa Vassilieff, Paris).
Anna Arutyunyan (born 1983) is an art critic, curator, senior research fellow at the Scientific Department of the Moscow Museum of Modern Art (MMOMA), and a corresponding member of the Russian Academy of Arts. She graduated with honours from the Department of the History and Theory of Art at Moscow State University in 2006. Anna has written a guide to the MMOMA collection entitled Theatre and Cinema Artists (Moscow: Meier, 2014). Selected joint curatorial projects at MMOMA: Dreams for those who are awake (2013, exposition of the collection), Nikolai Shumakov. Private Lessons of the Architect (2014), Museum with Predictions (2014-2015, jointly with Vasily Tsereteli, exposition of the collection), One inside the other. The art of new and old media in the era of high-speed Internet (2015-2016, nominated for the Kuryokhin Award 2015), the children’s festival PLAYMMOMA: Play with contemporary art! (2016, jointly with Polina Zotova, nominated for the Kuryokhin Award 2016), What does Dmitry Prigov’s ‘poor cleaning lady’ see? Donation to the Moscow Museum of Modern Art (2017), and Nikita Makarov. Finis terrae: At the edge of the enchanted world (2017). Exhibitions at other venues: the cycle Words and Things: Opening of the Collection at the Mikhail Bulgakov Museum (Moscow, 2014-2016) and Entering the River Twice: Paintings by Andrey Esionov at the Uzbekistan State Art Museum (Tashkent, 2017).