September 14 - November 01, 2011

Text: Canvas, Paintbrush and Conscience

Author: Alexander Sekatskiy

The works of Igor Pestov displayed in the Marina Gisich gallery are impressive in every way, as befits a versatile work of art that is modern only if it encapsulates its own history within itself (the history of both victories and defeats). Nevertheless, all the skill and mastery and achievements combined might not be enough, if the acupuncture of what is being experienced right now is left untouched. That which is being experienced either with complete clarity or almost unconsciously, by everyone, or at least by someone.

Pestov’s painting is present at every reference point that the trajectory of relevant art passes through, and it is exactly for this reason that his creative work can be defined as painting, without resorting to the modest term “visualization,” which is often used today to mask the simple lack of a “school,” meaning the arsenal of resources that should always be on hand for the artist when needed. Igor Pestov does not have any difficulties with this, which allows him true freedom of expression, providing the opportunity to focus on the essentials.

Thus, the first and most obvious goal – to demonstrate the black belt level of what is still referred to as skill – is attained immediately. And since all categories of audience, including casual viewers and the quite sophisticated, have been dearly missing this display of mastery, their initial favor of the artist is guaranteed. But Pestov’s works belong to relevant art, particularly the art that has dominion over the souls of today, and this is what needs some explanation.

The high-voltage line of provocative art that hits close to home requires, strangely enough, very firm boundaries and severe self-discipline. Not too long ago, a poet could permit himself to celebrate just a something, a vague distance, and the resulting diffused poetic atmosphere justified his efforts. This was replaced by multi-faceted crystals of poems that answered only for themselves. Today, the poet has to earn the right to be heard, despite the fact that there are no instructions available for how to do this. The expanding line of graphics and the much-discussed visualism is even stricter. The artist is faced with the fact that today, artistic liberty closely touches (and sometimes merges with) politics, in the broadest sense of the word. This used to be called bias, but now it is just a given, which must be used as a starting point in order to “come home”. It is understood that without this spark, the act of art does not occur. Naturally, Igor is aware of what is going on, and we may say that he emerges fully armed.

The modern world is choking on the abundance of images in every format and mode of reception, so it is not surprising that consumers of compulsory video advertising begin to suffer and develop a type of immunity to visual bullying. But the artist has it the worst in these conditions. The artist can no longer count on the self-sufficient “picturesqueness of lilacs” or the freshness of an April morning captured in colors; all the favorite special effects of a colorful palette have been stolen from him without remorse by the advertising industry, industrial design and show business. So here we see two possible ways out: either to try to find a quiet corner and develop some trademark technique, in this way preparing yourself for the fate of a marginal who is appreciated by a few connoisseurs, or to attempt to fearlessly dive into the mainstream, enter into competition with established artists, and find your own place in it.

This is the main track that Igor Pestov has chosen. His works are substantive messages addressed to those who are concerned about the present and the future beyond their own personal prosperity. Under the conditions of junk information overload, the artist’s message must be extraordinarily distinct and brief. Ideally, it should contain just one quantum of meaning, in order to engage and hold the indifferently skimming, satiated glance. All the rest, all the nuances so precious to the heart of the creator, will be added later and presented to the artist and the viewer as a bonus. The artist Pestov understands this well; he is not one to count on the indulgence of a friendly circle. Igor Pestov plays by the rules of the major league of modern art. There is no point in re-telling the contents of these messages; before us is the element of protest, where there is no place for halftones, where timidity and caution would look silly. The artist expresses his political stance (in the broadest sense of the word) and shows what he stands for and will stand up for, in accordance with the demands that the times place on the artist.

Quantums be as they may, the “packaging issue” is no less important. The messages that are sent to the world, as has already been noted, are executed painstakingly. They contain the prophetic force of art, which has the quality of strengthening over time, rather than weakening.