Nestor Engelke: wood:store

Tuesday-Sunday from 15:00 to 18:00

Central hall of the Sytny market, section 79. St. Petersburg, Sytninskaya st., 5A. On the left side of the main entrance, behind the fruit and vegetable department


Nestor Engelke is a virtuoso of the plastic transformation of the finalized image. For more than a decade, domestic and foreign viewers have been drawn into fascinating relationships with his works. On the one hand, they acquire knowledge about the great works of art and great people, whom Engelke chooses as his correspondents. On the other, they are surprised and contented by the way the author realizes these virtual imprints of our cultural memory. As axe writing (the author's term) implies cutting along the contours of the drawing, voluminous objects often appear in the form of a negative, counter-relief breaking the existing stereotypes and views on physicality and tangibility. In contrast, the image background made out from wooden planks becomes unexpectedly corpulent, brutal, and rough.


The method of translating iconic images into completely non-distinctive materials was widely used by pop artists. But, according to Nestor, the idea came to him not from the field of mass culture, but from the old Moscow architecture: wooden classicism, which he, a hereditary architect of Northern Palmyra, walking around Zamoskvorechye, found very amusing. Columns sheathed with shingle — this is what should be considered the starting point of Engelke's author's style.


Together with reminiscences of the great heritage came the memories of the consumer culture of the past. This is how, for example, the tape cassette appeared, once — the unofficial currency of the youth subculture.


The current project, which, thanks to Nestor Engelke's subtle melancholy wit, is realized in the form of a market stall, is entirely dedicated to technology. It seems that the past day is considered by the artist as a source of a brightly outlined nostalgia. Oh, gadgets dear to the heart: phones, headphones, consoles and X-boxes. Oh, expensive TVs, computers and players. Oh, unforgettable modems, cameras, and printers. TVs and tape recorders. VCRs and CD players. Pedometers and VR helmets. Laptops and Nintendos. Set-top boxes for cable TV and e-books…!  Where, where have you gone to?


Well, frankly speaking, they haven't all left yet. But, in general, in the light of today's upheavals, the artist’s vector is correct. And, in order to mitigate the effect of the total disappearance, Nestor Engelke translates them into his wooden code. He is trying to create something similar to NFT but, vice versa, transforming them from a digital device into what is observed in rough, but materially tangible certainty.


In terms of their expressiveness and the material used — wood — Engelke's images resemble Fayum portraits created in honor of a tribe of passing away human-friendly devices. However, if we recall the magical properties of these ancient images on the tablets — whose eyes were the gateway to return to the body of Ba, a part of the soul of the deceased traveling through the afterlife — we can hope that the wooden portraits of gadgets will help us return from a distant overseas journey and their digital souls.