Petr Shvetsov. Not what it seems

Petr Shvetsov’s personal exhibition combines paintings and graphics from the “Lingerie” series over different years. The first drawing from 2008 recorded an image from a dream that became an obsession and has continued appearing in later works ever since. Sensuality is expressed in two variations: in older works it is the symbol of women’s undergarments hanging from a clothesline, while more recent works feature the sensual as an image that is nearly devoid of meaning.

The paintings in the series demonstrate the artist’s signature style, explicitly referencing Dutch 17th-century still lifes. Petr shows a special interest in objects that seem trivial at first glance. The deep black background plays a significant role: this is what creates the desired optical effect that seems to envelop objects in emptiness, while at the same time pushing them to the foreground in all their selfhood and presence. It seems that nothing is actually happening in these works, but they document how things are present in the here and now, how they exist as separate pieces of a cohesive universe.

Unable to let go of the dream image, the artist created extremely realistic paintings that portray thin translucent fabrics with folds and puckers, playing with shadows and shading. The series resembles the gallery of a fetishist who maniacally pursues the object of his obsession: flesh-colored nylon stockings, lace bras, petticoats and combinations of undergarments are captured in their undisguised delicacy and shamelessness.

The sensual that is symbolized by Shvetsov in women’s lingerie may perplex the viewer at first. It is disconcerting in its candor and straightforwardness, making it awkward to gaze at and examine these intimate transparent materials and folds. But like everything that is taboo and normally hidden from prying eyes, it holds your gaze and draws your eye over the silky and lacy surfaces again and again. The sensual is gradually transformed into imagery in this series of works — sheets become abstract cloth stretching to the edges of the canvas, concealing the same arousing folds, while white spreads out into other colors and shades, from cool gray to warm pink. The beauty of the depiction, the defamiliarisation of the objects, and their manifested sensuality both fascinate and repulse, or even frighten us — yet through them we encounter ourselves. Because what is captured by the artist and the way these things are captured contain the eye of the beholder, and what we see has long been looking at us.

Curator: Lizaveta Matveeva

Text: Lizaveta Matveeva