Mikhail Dolyanovsky: Rat House

3 March - 11 April 2020

In Mikhail Dolyanovsky’s new series everything that happens on the canvases is intentionally left ambiguous and, according to the artist, "the characters are quite abstract, it is something averaged, a channeling off society".

Narrativity is inherent in the very nature of the medium of painting, which will always be a story where even the movement of layers of paint could become a plot. 

It is surprising that painting is again relevant for the generation of artists of the 2010s.

The creative rage and frenzy that used to previously emerged as a fight against the conservative tradition, now appear out of joy at seeing paint streaks on the canvas.

In all Dolyanovsky's paintings there is one common feature — the muscular tension of the characters, the indispensable content and plastic rhetoric of the monumental painting that the artist learned at the Kharkiv Academy of arts and design.


The unrealized strain of the characters, frozen on the canvas in strange poses, turns into a spasm of the painting itself, whose heavy and viscous materiality is evident in the new works.

The 33-year-old artist from Belgorod can be considered as the late representative of the post-Soviet realistic school.


The early 2000s, when Dolyanovsky chose his calling, were booming years.


The beginning of the second decade, when he began to participate in group exhibitions — was a time of disillusionment.


In 2016, when the artist settled in the capital of Russia, the air was filled with a sense of the "new nineties" with their uncertainty about the future: in recent years, the situation is somewhat similar to those years when artists began to arrive in Moscow from afar, and Russian art was supplemented by such personalities as Oleg Kulik from Kiev or Avdey Ter-Oganyan from Rostov.


Young artists have long and massively learned how to convert artisan academic education into modern art, following the example of Eastern European authors who became stars on the eve of the new century. 


Now those who enter the modern art, no matter what, are not ready to give up the picturesque medium that is sagging under the weight of history.


Everyone who inherits a painting has to "re-invent" it individually in order to get their own image of art.


Therefore, all modern painting consists of syncopations, its intonation is never even, within a single picture can alternate techniques, textures, plans, and common places are adjacent to overflowing with intense sense.

The artist is able to connect arbitrarily to any fragment of a huge tradition — the strength of the new generation is in the ability to operate reference points, and Dolyanovsky is one of them. He does not address the great operatic themes of German neo-expressionism, but rather the lyricism and mystique of the Italian transavangard.


Now the deconstruction of painting is already embedded in itself and requires not so much individual efforts of the artist as an awareness of the surrounding tectonics, places of stress and faults — social, artistic, historical.


One of Dolyanovsky's projects was called "Zombies instead of vegetables": flipping the name of the popular Internet toy" Plants vs Zombies", he showed graphic frames drawn on the inside of vegetable plywood boxes, similar in style to Raymond Pettibon.


Zombies and vegetables are used both literally and figuratively to indicate people who have been fooled by television and propaganda.


In the new works there are also a lot of similar characters, who following  zombies came from mass culture. 


Everywhere there is a noticeable fascination with "category B" science fiction — with the advent of postmodernism, movies about monsters and body snatchers have become the object of an aesthetic cult.


The fear of the unknown are especially attractive in an atmosphere of optimism, as in the 1960s, when reality is stratified, its flipside becomes visible without psychedelic drugs, and horror meets the absurd.


A cube made of paintings, assembled in the gallery space like an alien ship that landed in the middle of the exhibition hall, not only destroys the usual connection of painting with the wall plane, but also turns all the audience to face the central event — and to each other.

Pavel Gerasimenko