“Brave Wooden World,” a retrospective of Dmitry Tsykalov’s work, opens on 10 November at Marina Gisich Gallery. The project is named after Aldous Huxley’s 1932 novel, “Brave New World”.
The artist was born in 1963 in Moscow and graduated from the Drawing department at the Moscow Polygraphic Institute. Tsykalov has been based in Paris since 1991. In the 80’s, Tsykalov’s first pieces with wood “drew the attention of a narrow circle of specialists in the Moscow underground. But even back then, a line seemed to be drawn between him and the capital’s emerging art scene. At a time when Moscow romantic conceptualism has begun its triumphal march through exhibition halls of both the capital and Europe, ignoring traditional sculptural values, Tsykalov stubbornly labored over the quality and technical definition of his ‘woodwork’. A saw and a hammer are as natural as a brush to his hands, and he wields them with the mastery of a virtuoso.” (Bogdan Mamonov)
The Dmitry Tsykalov exhibition at the Marina Gisich Gallery starts with large wooden pieces from new series still in progress, “Skins” and “Maps”. The objects are made out of military boxes that once stored weapons. “The boxes were collected from all over the world — Germany, France, England, Russia, America, China, etc. — and they are marked with calibers, TNT compounds, and the chemical composition of explosives in all these different alphabets. Dmitry Tsykalov ‘carves up’ the boxes and reassembles them to create impressive hunting trophies: bears, lions, panthers and tigers. At first glance, they seem to be a simple homage to Schwitters’ sculptural collages, referencing his well-known mosaic repertoire of Dadaist Merzbau forms. However, it soon becomes obvious that their status as ‘art’ is just bait. The drawings on the skins are naturally a realistic tribute to the remains of real animals, but they also function as camouflage for the art object.” (Jean-Yves Jouannais)
Like a counterpoint to a powerful preamble, the second part of the exhibition is almost intimate in its shape and content, modeled after a fashion boutique where you can find shirts, ties and underwear. Here, among other things, works from the “Lingerie” series will be displayed. “Underwear – lingerie – is an object to cover our Biblical nakedness, a metaphor for delicacy and tenderness, that turns into an instrument of torture, an object both sacred and damned. The project uses a marquetry inlay technique. The objects are cut from thin sheets of different wood veneers, torn, and then pieced together. Torn edges, cracks, and wood splinters are used for creating the objects. Subtle patterns are formed out of different stocks of wood veneer. Miniatures with erotic scenes from classical paintings, combined with torn edges and splinters, function as totems that should protect a person from chaos and at the same time pave the way for his destructive ecstasy,” the artist explains.
The Dmitry Tsykalov retrospective exhibition at the Marina Gisich Gallery will show works that span the past 30 years. Although he has a rich biography of exhibits in France, Dmitry Tsykalov has been under-represented in Russia until now. “Brave Wooden World” is the artist’s first personal exhibition in St. Petersburg.