For quite some time, the circle of artists presented at the exhibition has not been focused on its own would-be community and group project. Each individual author enters into a trance of original outsiderhood and artistic autism. The word ‘outsider‘ – transliterated from the English – has become popular in the Russian language, but in its common usage its content, with its specific shade of meaning, is worn down. It carries an indication of the presence of someone “beyond” something.
“Something beyond the limits of normality“ in the context of the exhibition is free of any spiritual or mystic inflections and is inseparably linked with the form of existence of the artist beyond the borders of a studio of an artistic type and institutional ethics.
We know that in order to examine works of art you must imagine the conditions in which the artists worked in the relevant historical period. Thus, for example, the early modernists (such as Pablo Picasso and Henri Matisse) often worked where they lived and slept, whilst stubbornly preserving the easel form of their works. Later, a similar biorhythm was recreated by authors in Europe such as Lucian Freud and David Hockney. We must note, however, a radically different form of work in the first decades of the second half of the 20th century among artists in the United States of America. There, “artistmanufacturers” developed (certain representatives of abstract expressionism, adepts of pop art, neo-dada, post-painting abstractionism and others). Artists increasingly moved to studios in former industrial territories. As a result, their painted surfaces surpassed easel painting forms, and fairly quickly took on facets of giantism, where space is viewed and examined by them in a totally different way than on an easel.
Comparing the studios of the pioneer-modernists and their American colleagues of the second modernist wave, we can identify significant differences not only between the two forms of work, but also differences in cultural situations through the Marxist thesis which maintains that the development of the productive force (specifically, the means of production) inevitably alters (undermines) the form of productive relations and the quality of the end product. This is perhaps the rare case where it makes sense to apply to a small fragment of the history of art the concept of the interrelationship of productive forces and the consequences that arise from them. To do this is fairly risky, as the quality of art (particularly the quality of painting) to this day has only a very weak direct link with technological progress. By virtue of the a priori historical-conservative relationship with the material in painting in the second half of the 20th century, important changes in the sphere of the means of production do take place, however: the availability of oil paints in large volumes, the use of enamels, acrylics and other synthetic materials, broad painting brushes, spacious studios on industrial scales, prevalent access to large-scale formats – all of this does change productive relations. The artist already conceives his works (series) in large, well-lit exhibition venues (institutions) where institutional relations arise and a market system forms. This officialdom engenders new ethical issues in art.
The quality of the artistic product itself is also modified. Rather than immersing the spectator into the depth of the image, as was the case previously in easel forms, it leaps out at him from huge canvases, or maintains the status of a fairly powerful two-dimensional barrier before the recipient. All of these changes can be observed in the shift of artists to studios of an industrial type. It is important that we note here that after the Second World War the entire international institutional base for modern art begins to form, and we can identify certain distortions within it to this day.
The above-described transformation of working spaces operates in this context as a historic dramaturgy that leads to the formation of the specifics of the working processes of the circle of authors presented in the pavilion, rather than as an unshakable theoretical formula for the analysis of all modern art.
It should be stressed that almost all of the authors have consciously rejected, at the point of the creation of the works presented, large-scale studios for various reasons and are actively working, as a rule, in apartment or even more extreme conditions (in the case of Anton Nikolaev, he makes sketches in a psychiatric clinic), which makes their work psychological and closely linked to their ways of life.
Even the last works by Alisa Yoffe done in a studio of an industrial type convey a phase in the disappearance of the XXL format, rather than a solution to tasks that are not strictly painterly.
In the “Out” exhibition, a protective ribbon, such as that used by police at a crime scene, has been unfurled along the wall. This spatial element within the pavilion creates a signal barrier between the art presented on the walls and the space given over to the public. There is a certain border between the spectator and the works presented. The authors are symbolically partitioning off their works, showing the distance between their form of existence and the tinsel and trinkets of the fair.