MIXED MEDIA. 'CROWS' SERIES. 2005.
Valery Savchuk: In terms of the technical aspect, this is a series printed on canvas and then covered with lacquer, with numbers painted in acrylic on top. Mixed media. The pictures were taken in Ceylon over the Indian Ocean.
Photos are grouped in blocks of four-part graphics, compositionally arranged in a single line. The artist took several hundred shots over the course of three weeks. What at first glance seems surprising to our visual experience is the norm for Ceylon, where the Black Crow – as the locals call these birds – feeds on small crabs and other animals when the tide is out. Although Ceylon crows are smaller than ours, they drove the seagulls away from the coast, and as if reasserting the meaning of the verb to crow, they loudly boast of their domination over the shoreline.
Alexander Kirillov: It is also a celebration of the performance captured by the artist! He is able to detect and record the traces that Culture leaves on the body of Nature. The monotonous oceanic landscape is literally steeped in the drama of the scene being played out. The photo here is like an unusual kind of letter, printed symbols.
VS: The works capture a variety of configurations, angles, compositions; on certain pages it is difficult to recognize the crows, which look like abstract figures, marine animals or even fish. They are deliberately graphic, which is emphasized by the diversity of spots that are reduced to indistinguishable shapes, emphasizing the clean line of the graphic statement. However, on some photos the crows gather in flocks, creating complicated multi-figure compositions. Sometimes the easy gliding of the crows gives way to the energy of black wings beating the air, resurrecting phantom images of the fear of death that was strongly associated with these birds in legends. But in the end, the separate four-part blocks refer back to their integral message, thus strengthening and underscoring the content of each of them. At the same time, I should note that this series is definitely lacking the heavy inevitable seriousness of conceptual photography.
AK: I'd like to pay special attention to the so-called magic squares of the eighth order that accompany each photographic series and further emphasize the abstract, speculative nature of the images. This is the true nature of numbers and mathematics in general, so mysterious in their foundation. The matrix of digits seems to define a special way to read it, interpret the images, and orient the viewer's gaze. At the same time, it is appropriate to recall famous engraving Melancholy I, as Dürer was the first in European art to use a magic square (fourth order). With this approach, the crows appear before us as companions of the twilight angel, his deputies, or spots of black bile on the fabric of the melancholy landscape. All visible and conceivable space from the observer's viewpoint to the horizon is marked by the sign of Saturn.
VS: By introducing the magic square into the context of his images, the artist not only enhances the symbolic content of the works, but also demonstrates that it is possible to resist the onslaught of glossy appeal – an attribute of tourism photography that fills the modern public space.