Photography is the royal road into perspective-unconscious. That is, more or less, what Benjamin wrote about in “A Short History of Photography”. His idea became the principle of development of modernity in this art form. Vadim Gushchin subjects it to scrupulous analysis. In the new project “Cultural Treasures” he complicates the conditions of the experiment, introducing colour into his formerly classical black and white series of still-lifes.
Before, Gushchin also photographed objects capable of provoking frankness in the viewer. The project “Cultural Treasures” comprises a few series, the heroes of which are, for the most part, cultural objects. The books in his photographs do not simply refer to a specific time on the strength of the author/title, but because of their thumbed and faded state they cause tactile-olfactory experiences to arise from the past. Absolutely brand new envelopes demonstrate cardboard elasticity and unwittingly one has to suppress an involuntary reflex of the fingers folding a note to put in there. Musical laser discs, shimmering in the rays of a halted beam of light, as if they visually radiate music, cause something within us to resonate. The objects of this series address namely the cultural subconscious and compel one to think about the origins of that very culture which, as it turns out, is rooted so deeply inside us.
With regard to the working surface of Gushchin’s still-lifes, it should be perceived as being abstract-material. Except for in one or two series (for example, with books, which I would describe as the most realistic because of the special spirit of historicism which is manifest in it), it does not remind us of anything. Because the setting is photographed from above, the working surface hovers in space, creating a support for the objects, but not for our efforts to perceive which are constantly thrown into bewilderment that corresponds in Gushchin’s compositions to gaping darkness that opposes the objects’ characteristics. Perhaps this is the most expressive image of his still-lifes, found long ago and being cultivated by him. I undertake to surmise that it is the basic concept of his photographic philosophy. Gushchin’s photography does not come out of light, but out of its absence which structures all of his visual imagery.
Consciousness, thrown by the artist into the bewilderment of darkness, studies objects by touch, and amongst their other purely physical qualities encounters colour as well. In his project the material nature of colour, colour as paint, is affirmed. This is not the colour of light dispersion, but the objects’ local colour which is tightly bound with them through cultural memory. When constructing a composition out of objects, Gushchin experiments with abstract colour relationships – in the gaping emptiness of the space of soaring, the heroes in his still-lifes are estranged from all earthly things, like the colour planes of Suprematist compositions. Gushchin’s photography reveals the fundamental duality of culture: the abstract nature of objects in it and the specificity of colour.
Wassily Kandinsky wrote: “at a higher level of man’s development a range of qualities containing a variety of things and essences always widens. At this higher level of development, beings and things gain intrinsic value and, ultimately, begin to resonate inwardly. So it is with colour”. Trying to understand local colour in photography, which is “light-painting” by definition, and in relation to this the entry onto a new artistic level of using this medium in art is namely that cultural value by which Vadim Gushchin’s new project should be measured.
Konstantin Bokhorov, PhD
My Things (2000-2010)
This portfolio consists of black and white silver prints of photographs from the series of 2000 - 2010.It is covered period of art by Gushchin.
Taking objects from their physical space, Vadim Gushchin transforms them and returns them to the viewer in a new context. Est Objectum. Artist placed his objects in an non-situational space of "never and nowhere". By counterpoising image and reality, the photographer transforms space and our existential idea of being.
The counterpoint that Gushchin sets up between tactile and abstract realities takes the viewer into the realm of eighteenth-century philosophy when it was not possible to conceive that the photographic image could exist apart from human imagination. At the time, painting, especially that of Jean-Baptiste Simeon Chardin, was considered to be the response of an artist's intuitive perception to the philosophical idea of cognitively representing universal laws. Later on, photography came to question and redefine the relationship between physical reality and visual imitation or representation.
Approaching objects as a philosopher, Gushchin portrays his objects in highly refined tonalities. He replaces black and dark-gray and white with tones that are mild, light-gray so the tonal qualities of his work are sensual and sensitive, even as they maintain the tangible presence of the physical object. Gushchin's fine art prints relate not only to the existence of a physical object but also to the very nature or concept of photography itself and its relationship to a rigorous purity of aesthetic form.
Anya Tish Gallery, Houston, TX, United States
Clamp Art , New York, NY, United States
Glaz Gallery, Moscow, Russia
In Focus Gallery, Cologne, Germany
Jennifer Norback Fine Art, Chicago, IL, United States
Lumiere Broithers Gallery, Moscow, Russia
I photograph objects or groups of objects, united by one theme. I am interested in things related to our time; I avoid photographing antiques, because what is important for me is my photograph’s connection with the time in which I live. I am convinced that the artist should talk “about time and about himself”. On the other hand, everything that I photograph in the studio is made up by me, it does not exist in the real world; it is just invention in the form of artistic expression. In my works there are two levels of perception – the sculptural and the philosophical. What appeals to me on the sculptural level is the beauty of the object, its form and the texture of the material. Photography allows one to look at an object intensely, to capture the smallest detail in its image and to reveal what the eye is incapable of seeing physically. At the base of this approach to the object lies the surprise in how photography can transform simple things. Using compositional and lighting techniques, I try to convey my perception of an object, I create a sort of portrait of the object, transform a rather banal object into a monument. On the philosophical level, I am interested in the sacral dissolved in the banal. To one degree or another, the sacral is hidden in every object, even if it is a disposable object, intended to be used only once. This prompts me to archive objects. Each of my series is an imaginary archive.
There are substances which have turned the history of mankind upside down: metal or gunpowder, for example. Paper is one of these substances. Paper is a wonderful noble textural material and is used universally. I am attracted by the diversity of forms in which paper exists. The highest purpose of paper is to carry information. It is books, stacks of books, manuscripts. Sometimes the titles of the books can be seen in the photograph, sometimes not.
In a stack of books, turned with their spines to us, various specimens can be seen – from telephone directories to philosophical works which have radically changed the consciousness of entire peoples. In this case, there is immense energy concentrated in such a pile, comparable with the energy of an atomic bomb. I am interested in this ambiguity which is embedded in the image. The presence of some mystery. Considering the various stacks of books, we can assume that there are various potentials of energy, or their complete absence. The use of paper in the home does not make its sacral essence redundant. Just like in books, under the paper wrapping of a parcel anything can be contained, for example, those very books. And even in disposable napkins, the paper retains the nobility of its texture.
In my most recent works, while continuing to photograph books, I use colour photography. Now with the help of colour I try to convey the sacral essence of the book, continuing the Constructivist tradition of Russian visual art which is based on icon painting, in which each colour carries both a visual and a profound meaningful message.
Vadim Gushchin is freelancer artist since 1988, lives and works in Moscow. Since 1995 he has had more than 30 solo-exhibits in galleries and museums in Russia and abroad, among them the solo-exhibit “Wood and Bread” in International Photo-festival FotoFest Houston, USA (2006). His works were exposed in conceptual group projects, among them "A la Recherche du Pere" (1993, Paris), “Neue Fotografie aus Russland” (1995, tour in 5 Cities of Germany), “Idea photographic after Modernism” (2002, Santa-Fe, USA), Triennial of Photography in Odence, Denmark 2006,”Contemporary Russian Photography” FotoFest 2012, Houston, USA. Gushchin's photographs are included in many museumsand private collections including The Museum of Fine Arts, Houston, Museum of Fine Art, Santa Fe, Santa Barbara Museum of Art, The Pushkin State Museum of Fine Arts, Moscow, Museum of Modern Atr, Moscow.
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