BEACH. View of the exhibition in Aidan Gallery

Cover of the catalog for the exhibition


BEACH. 2002

Art in the genre of suspense

The paintings of Maria Pogorzhelskaya are usually compared with the work of Dubosarsky-Vinogradov duo. It’s quite natural, as they have all graduated from the Surikov institute and they skillfully use the degraded manner of realistic painting which they’ve been taught. At this point there likeness ends. The art of Dubosarsky-Vinogradov is literature to the bone. For them ”oil on canvas" is just the means to make there project, which makes them rather traditional Conceptual artists. There’s the skill to making paintings, there are some good ideas and smartly used stereotypical subjects. Further on, like in Sorokin’s texts, into those subjects they integrate some absolutely improper element. And – bang! – you got an outburst of meanings.


Nothing like than in the works of Pogorzhelskaya. No bangs, no blows. First of all there’s no subject – instead you got a scene from life, an easy, pleasant and desirable. Someone’s swimming, someone’s getting tan, another one sits on the lawn. Her paintings are not literature. Moreover, Pogorzhelskaya is interested in the painting itself; and it’s well seen in the later works – behind the seeming grubbiness and incompleteness there’s a craving for painterly valeur, for una pittura per se.

It’s funny but we don’t have here almost any painting for painting’s sake, or even art for art’s sake. The artist still consider that they are more then artists (or less then artists, which is probably the same), and the do something valuable (or instead something useless and dangerous).

Looking for the analogs of Pogorzhelskaya’s works in the world contemporary art, one might remind Alex  Katz. But this is a false likeness. Katz’s glamour is cold, the world of Pogorzhelskaya is warm. Some would remind of Eric Fishl, but his  paintings irradiate pathology, but there are dark subconscious motives in the works of Pogorzhelskaya.

Just join and sunshine. Simply good people. Simply painting with a wide horizon and able to be better. It’s not easy to fine someone who would believe (or would like to believe) in this “simple”. Now it’s inevitably considered as cultural insanity – “where’s the context? Where’s the art strategy and professional irony about beauty?”

I admit that it’s not easy for me also to believe that Maria Pogorzhelskaya is that simple; and that she is simply bathing in the sun. But what fascinates me is her ability to keep balance between simple life and art pleasures (let’s call it a shaky bridge) and something like sky or a comb (let’s call it propriety in contemporary art). This is a strong suspense.

Nikita Alexeev 

Moscow. 2002

translated by S.Khripun

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