On January 27, Marina Gisich Gallery opens an exhibition of Gregori Maiofis’ newest graphic works that the artist has been working on for the last year and a half. As before, Maiofis demonstrates skillful mastery of vintage photo printing techniques and witty subjects, with the spirit of a fable commenting on the values of modern society. The series “Proverbs” and “Taste for the Russian Ballet”, which have long been the artist’s calling card, were published in separate albums.
Over the last 6 to 8 years, Maiofis’ work was most often featured in museum exhibitions or at contemporary art fairs in Europe, the US, and Russia, rather than at gallery exhibitions. “He called me a potato!” is a project that definitively opens a new page in the artist’s work.
Irina Chmyreva [PhD in Art History, Lead Research Associate at the Research Institute of the Russian Academy of Arts]:
“Over his twenty-year career in contemporary art photography, Maiofis’ success has been built on bizarre combinations: an everyday word and the discovery of its true meaning, revealed in photographs of staged scenes of unimaginable complexity in their production and full of absurdity. <…> Overly elaborate surface textures on the prints, rare palimpsests of nearly forgotten techniques… Professionals could not remain indifferent upon seeing all of photography’s history embodied in a single artist. The public adored the bears – like a circus act. It was a sad one (just like in a real circus, when a cumbersome bear sorrowfully rolls around on a tricycle), and it became even more melancholic when the artist symbolically tossed his glove in the face of the audience with his traditional proverbs labeling the “bears”. None of the proverbs mentioned a bear, but in the Maiofis circus the animal played the role of Fate, Circumstance, Homeland, Hapless Musical Performer, Critic, and Grateful Spectator… The bear was a star in versatile roles, invariably evoking wild applause and calls for an encore.
During this time, there was work going on behind the scenes. The master of political satire and sophisticated printing was experimenting with new images. <…> Everything became more complicated and more distanced from the viewer, who – like Alice’s hero – ran further and further yet remained in the same place with the bears, only managing to pay tribute to their entertainment value.
The new story from Maiofis, “He called me a potato!”, is nothing more than a collection of great jokes that will be remembered and quoted for a long time, remaining current and funny. <…> The artist’s new heroes cling to the expensive paper covered with noble sienna instead of silver emulsions, rolled out on an old printing press – like clown hats worn at a child’s birthday party. Children’s toys, pinecones from the forest, and potatoes stolen from the hostess’ table: they rule the roost, the rulers of our time. The artist grants them the right to speak in a session of ventriloquism and magnetism, which will repeat some of the thoughts of visitors to art exhibitions that were captured in the air, along with comments from professional cocktail party-goers and public transport passengers.”