Maria Koshenkova (b. 1981, St.Petersburg) is an artist and sculptor, famous for creating works of glass. Works in Russia and Denmark.
According to Maria, glass is an ideal material for creating compound objects, for exploring a delicate balance, located on the border of beauty and brutality.
Maria usually develop a series of sculptures within the same conceptual framework. First, an idea is created, and only then materials are selected for it, which is why they are so diverse: glass, wax, paper, “found objects”.
Text: Boris Manner
In our simple everyday perception, objects seem like stationary things. By default, we think of sculptures, furniture, or household items as static objects that take up space and are juxtaposed to the flesh. As we move around and look at something from different angles, we discover nuances and new qualities. However, each facet of our perception gives us an idea of a particular fragment, not of the object as a whole. The only way to capture the true form and identity of an object is to keep moving and continually change the angle.
The art of Maria Koshenkova is located in the same coordinate system as the lectures of Edmund Husserl "Thing and Space" (1907) and "Panoramic Manifesto" (1965) by the auctioneer artist Rudolf Schwarzkogler. From the very start, glass is an excellent material for her work. She starts creating series of objects early on. Groups of diverse glass objects act as allusions to things like hearts, ropes, or the used furniture in the current exhibition. In her spatial installations, individual objects are transformed into new integral works (meta-objects), which are revealed to the viewer only by kinetic perception. While Koshenkova’s work has a quality of expansive movement that shapes the space around it, it isn’t based solely on her conceptual impulses. In her preface to this exhibit at the Marina Gisich Gallery, the artist notes that “glass never obeys the plan”, which defines the hallmark of her work. The creative process involves improvisation, rather than perfectly following a design. This is not about carrying out a plan and forcing the material to take the intended form. The external properties of the material and its physical qualities play a crucial role in the creative process.
The techniques and limitations of working with glass are a window into how the process of creating a sculpture requires an incessant sequence of tactile and visual effects. The fluid, malleable material is attached to long tubes, rotated and blown out—the entire body is involved in shaping it. All decisions have to be made quickly, while the material is in a liquid state and has not had time to solidify. The result offers sensory evidence of the kinetic creative process. Sculptures made this way do not depict existing real shapes, but embody the dynamic process of tactile and visual shaping (including through the sensations they evoke). It is a collaboration between the material’s own logic and the artist’s creative influence.
In the Bodegones cycle, Maria Koshenkova develops another reference to the concept of the object. In this case, it is a reference to the prime of Spanish still life in the 16th and 17th centuries. On the canvases of one of the most prominent representatives of the genre, Juan Sanchez Cotan, fruits, vegetables and animal carcasses are depicted in stone niches on a dark background. The isolation of these familiar images with sharp lighting and a hyper-realistic style gives them a monumentality—in stark contrast with their perishability. The same dialectic is reflected in the works of Maria Koshenkova. Kotan achieves it by contrasting the consciously chosen transience of the objects depicted (fruits, dead animals and vegetables) with a brilliant and anatomically accurate style of painting, while it comes through in Koshenkova’s work via the contradiction inherent in the use of glass as a material for artistic objects. On the one hand, we acknowledge the fluidity of the material that is difficult to control (“glass never obeys the plan”), while on the other hand, we see the clarity and sharpness of the form that remains when the creative process stops. The contrast between impermanence and perpetuation becomes visible and tangible.
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