Alexey Kallima: CITY OF ROADS

25 January - 1 March 2023 Winzavod

VLADEY, in collaboration with OVCHARENKO, presents a solo exhibition of Alexey Kallima, a famous Moscow artist born in Grozny and educated in Krasnodar. Of the stream of the younger generation that the millennium brought with it, his name was one of the brightest: parvenu, without acquaintances and connections, Kallima, from the moment he appeared in the capital, somehow immediately found himself in the thick of artistic life. Gallery France, a non-profit space that the artist organized in his studio, quickly became the center of various collective projects and experiments, without which it is impossible to imagine the history of modern Russian art today.


An artist-poet, a romantic "from the east", a singer of impetuosity, Alexey Kallima was distinguished by a peculiar artistic manner, based on light sketchy graphics. It seemed that his imagination and feelings were too fast and changeable for painting. Kallima offered the sophisticated metropolitan audience a kind of energy cocktail, the main components of which were radiance (instead of color) and expressiveness of graphic drawing.


The post-millennium era brought with it a new understanding of light, since digital illusion is based on a glowing screen, and Alexey Kallima reacts to a new aesthetic reality by introducing bright colored matter as a kind of field/space in which his brush, chalk, charcoal rod, pencil, in a word, a stylus weaves and ties his drawings. With a Greek prototype (στῦλος, a stick squeezing out a drawing on a wax surface) there are many connections here: first of all, the method of opposition of the stroke of dense materiality of the background. So, at the very beginning of Kallima's work, the white lines of "Adidas" cut through the blackness of the Chechen costume, and the contours of the guria's body – the golden radiance of paradise. Then a red-brown sanguine was added to the colored materials that the drawing opposes.


The illustrativeness of the author's manner of Alexey Kallima embodied the spirit of the times, became a response to the ubiquity of digital image technologies, the antipode of computer illusory. While the digital illusion appears as if from nowhere, it is universal and "draw" in style, the graphic drawing is organic to the author, echoing the movement of his hand and character.


In the second decade of the new century, the author added an urban view from above to his expressive angles, in which the picture begins to resemble a map. Probably, in this change of optics, one can find echoes of socio-political life – the urban environment, multi-figure compositions with a rigid structure carried a sense of regulations and restrictions. At the same time, the colored air environment that served as the background of the drawing gave way to the materiality of the sheet itself — or canvas. On the projection from above from the window of a high-rise building, as in the works from the "Gray Days" series, the drawing no longer opposes matter, it seems to be pressed against it, unable to resist gravity.


Nevertheless, these works involve the same scheme of understanding amorphous matter by collecting it with a graphic drawing. This is close to the concept of a work of art by Gilles Deleuze (the phenomenal popularity of whose works fell precisely on the generation of Kallima): "from the sensory surface to the supersensible plane", that is, the pulling of an event from the depth of "experiences" to the metaphysical surface, on which only the acquisition of meaning is possible. Super-sensuality is also distinguished by the manner of Alexey Kallima's voluntaristic illustration — as opposed to the dull fantasizing of computer graphics.


Of course, there is a lot of intelligence and intellectual intuition in this approach to the image, which implies some detachment from the subject of observation. And, probably, there is no coincidence that at the moment of the maximum distance that the recent pandemic brought with it, Kallima begins to work on a series of urban panoramas – deserted, spread out in complete freedom and independence from their creators/inhabitants.


The City of roads — the author's name of the exhibition is an attraction in itself: a palindrome involves riding back and forth. And there is a lot of energy and movement in the works. In the series on the topic of overpasses, Chaplin's "new times" are read: the conveyor and total machinery. This is the energy of a new civilization — "old" Europe, as you know, does not allow autobahns into cities, puts obstacles to cars, prohibiting their entry into the city center. Of course, this is not the case in our capital.


The feeling of freedom, if we remember the social context of 2020-2021, is amazing. The artist ventured to change the habitual anthropocentrism and brought out the urban fabric itself as the main character — the hope for its self-regulation sounds in unison with the amazing self-purification of natural fabric in those days, like blue water in the canals of Venice again.


Ecstatic panoramas, acrobatic graphics of forks and overpasses are combined here with a return to the color element of early works, waxy air, which changes shades and density from pinkish haze to a stained-glass kaleidoscope. One of the undoubted coloristic successes is the canvas "Dragon of Deconstruction", where the weeping evening sky is compared with the flaming gold of the ruins, which is absorbed by the dragon-construction crane.


The cartographic beginning is also present here — from a bird's-eye view, "Transition" (a police car at the underpass), "Puddles on Spartak" (tire prints on snow-covered asphalt), "Electric Bus" are written. However, even in these cases, the artist finds the inner forces of opposition to the unbearable gravity associated with both nature and the state: the bright light of the transition suggests a possible escape trajectory, the light-water shining "pillow" under the traveling bus gives hope of takeoff.