Not long ago the entrance to cultural life was opened by the First contest of figurative art “Ars Longa”. The topic of the contest was Eros and Tanatos, love and death — vast spheres for artistic search enticing for their tolerance to interpretations and aptitude for synthesis. The only difficulty is, when depicting feelings and not instincts, to “rise above the waist”. For some this task proved to be beyond their ability, and the exposition full of anatomic cheesecake recently opened in the showroom of the House of Nature (in Trinity Suburbs) was dubbed “an erotica exhibition”.
If Stanislavsky had been a figurative art critic, he would have been disappointed for sure. Among the knights of the brush it is not in vogue to “begin the theatre with the checkroom”. They welcome deliberate slapdash as a certain characteristic of the modern art: throw your fur coats on the floor! And be imbued with the spirit of a creative muddle. The absence of a checkroom at the exhibition caused no surprise, but rather specified the nature of the event.
They tried hard, but not everywhere. The official opening was accompanied by a solemn delay and an attendant euphoria. “Please worry, dear guests and participants! The results of the anonymous work of the jury is still a great intrigue!” thrillingly heralded Nadezhda Korotkina, art director of the gallery “Ars Longa” and the curator and spiritual encourager of the project in which more than 200 authors took part. The guests started feeling nervous, the participants — demonstrating their boldness. From the extemporary stage someone talked about art and business, expressed gratitude, applauded and smiled heartily. By the sound decision of the organizers of the contest, the first prize was awarded to Eros and Tanatos themselves.
This covert sacrificial offering invoked originality in the audience. Investing of the second prize seemed to be symbolic — it was given to Sergey Agopov for his work “The slaughter of the innocents”. The eternal truism — a Biblical theme in a personal interpretation, but the work benefits from the novelty of its conceptual facets.
Following the traditions of the genre, the organizers didn’t forget about the beau-monde’s daily wants. Smiling waiters were floating among the audience offering wine, grapes and cheese. In remote solitude there sang violins, rustled the chiffon of skirts and glossed velvet. The noble atmosphere was assumed to be art in itself.
Fortunately, the main value of art exhibitions is, of course, paintings. They do not leave lipstick marks on wineglasses and do not leave wineglasses on sculpture pedestals. They do not worry about checkrooms. Maybe this is why it is not important for a true man of virtu where to throw his fur coat. But while true connoisseurs are rare, there was far more true art at “Eros and Tanatos”. At least, I very much want to believe so.