Regina Gallery is pleased to present new project of Alexey Kallima AUDIENCE.
The exhibition will present 60 portraits Kallima has created over the course of the past year. In his works, the artist captures his friends in the Moscow art world. By linking his pieces together in a single exhibition space, Kallima organizes a total installation.
When taking their photo, the artist imposed one simple condition on his friends — “Smile!” In so doing, he included every subject in a collective micro-performance that constituted the first phase in the project’s creation. Convinced that it is humor, above all, that helps contemporary art maintain the viewer’s interest, Kallima gives humor pride of place in his project. Thus, it is precisely the smile that links the individual works together. “I am, in a sense, battling conceptualism using conceptualism’s own means as I attempt to turn everything into a joke, and into art,” Kallima says.
The artist admits that the notion of smiling subjects is not a new one for him: “I have wanted to paint smiling people for a long time. In my youth I was deeply impressed by the frescoes in Santorini, where each person, whether he is selling fish or leaping over a bull, smiles a naïve smile. I think those people lived in happy times. If we can retain the possibility of smiling at each other today, then everything will be better than it seems.”
For the duration of the project, the gallery’s exhibition space will be transformed into an auditorium with an improvised stage accentuated by a spotlight. Here the viewer will be at the center of the action, surrounded by an “audience” of smiling artists.
Kallima has reflected on the “viewer/ artist” problematic before, in “Rain Theorem,” his total installation at the 2009 Venice Biennale. Whereas the subjects of that large-scale work (320 x 2800 cm), painted with fluorescent pigments, are mediated and depersonalized, the current installation makes each subject maximally concrete. Here, the artist realizes a recursion reminiscent of a Möbius band: the viewer looks at the work of art, and the work looks back at the viewer. “Just try to make a crowd of artists laugh,” Alexey Kallima suggests. Judging by the smiling faces of his friends, the viewer won’t have much trouble doing so.