THE APOLOGY OF DEFEAT (RUS)
The Apology of Defeat
Text to the exhibition
"Dilettantism in Art"
Guelman gallery, Moscow, 1996
Dmitry Gutov is right saying that this exhibition is bringing together several lines and stages of his work, carrying them through the logic end, to the end of possibilities.
The idea to exhibit traditional painting in Marat Guelman's gallery shows Gutov's old desire to produce effective and radical gestures. This time (or, rather, also this time) his radicalism is in the form of an affected conservatism. But this gesture, Gutov, exhibiting paintings in Guelman's Gallery, i. e. a radical artist, exhibiting something very traditional in a radical context, is so trivial that Gutov's radicalism exists only in his idea to carry it out in spite of its obvious triviality. So Gutov's radicalism (even this time) is shown in the forms of lapidary tautology, and the tautology here exists as something absolutely banal.
According to his statement, the exhibited canvases appeared because he had been looking for a visual image. Visuality was one of the main principal and vivid sides of his work. The apology of an art phenomenon has dominated his development as an artist of the new generation. At the same time, visuality was always understood by Gutov as a problem: even his most spectacular installations existed on the border of visible and hidden. This time he manifested his searches for visuality in the most clear form: painting is a sphere of visual par exellance. The problematic character of everything visual also appeared in the most obvious way: Gutov sincerely accepts his dilettantism, and he also accepts that he hasn't achieved the best result. In other word, the exhibition in Marat Guelman's Gallery lacks any double meaningless, any "sparkling" - we can see on the wall Gutov's imperfect attempts to create a visual image.
Even in his early works, made in the 60's stylistics, one can notice his nostalgia for some fullness, for some lost ontological unity. All his works were motivated by the desire to achieve some primer essence, and was coming along with the procedure of the reduction character. Offering us the painting, he might see in such an art form the main point of the classical tradition, and a person's ability to implement there his ideas and feelings - the essence of humanitarian anthropology. This time the reductionism is displayed in Gutov's works by showing some primer person's feelings, some elementary soul movements - sweetness while looking at a homeless dog, an old woman with flowers, sun specks on a girl's knee or autumn wet landscapes. We are speaking here about the approaching towards some generally open and at the same time enfeebled state of conscious. In other words, those primer structures, which are disclosed by Gutov's reductionism is some senile state of mind, some soul movement, born by the first stage of senility.
Gutov liked Mikhail Lifshits' notice that Giaconda's smile simultaneously reflected both the soul dynamics of a character and a process of reality construction. Really, the characteristic feature of the Gutov's work was his aim at the communication, the feature betraying a new generation artist.
We are speaking about active communication with the context, about constructive investigation of new essential and valuable spaces. This is the basis both for the visual effectiveness of his works and for his violent polemics with deconstructive and ironic program of the previous generation. Exhibiting his paintings in Marat Guelman's Gallery, he is leading to the logic limit also this communicational intention of his work. Similar to Giaconda's smile, these works bring together both the author and the surrounding context: shown disintegration of conscious dialectically correlates with both the senile author's experience and his public senility.
As well as before, Gutov's work is built upon contradictions. If he still has some respect to the art, why should it be profaned? If he is absolutely sure that the European humanism is exhausted, why does he squeeze this honorable tradition to the dry leftover - senile calmness? If the imperfection of his professional qualification is clear to him, why does he have to show his dilettantism? If the claustrophobic closeness of the art system is obvious to him, why does he use such forms of an expression as a gallery exhibition? If the degradation of the cultural context is clear to him, why does he get in contact with it?
However, if all reproves in contradictions were right, today they are out of point. In Gutov's work all contradictions exist in a suspended way: the more obvious they are, the more they are possible. If the artist's work is developing in the situation of understanding total degradation of primer paradigms of his creativity, understanding that his expression lacks any recipient, such creativity can't be motivated in a rational way. It can be dictated only by the personal obsession, and each separate expression could be born only as a hysteric explosion.
Gutov's exhibitionism has only one sense which lacks contradictions: I am speaking about public outadafe of the whole period both of his creative development and Moscow art situation. I am speaking about a generation, which had invested itself into the institutional perspective, into the notional justification of a gesture and expression, into the constructive dialogue with new post-Soviet publicity, into the conjunction of an aesthetic and ethic. Gutov's exhibition in Marat Guelman's Gallery is the thematisation of this perspective's end. So, common for this exhibition self-destruction and autism are similar as the self-destruction and autism of the artist of the same generation.
Understanding that this expression is the end of the whole period, that it is, according Hegel, "the phase of self-destruction, necessary within the cycle of dialectic development", Gutov is building it according principles of already exhausted paradigms. So, even understanding the collapse of any publicity, inertially he doesn't imagine any expression without a context. He isn't still open for the work, which is a fact of an individual experience, free from erotisation of publicity. Also he understands creation as a constant realization of the unified complex of ideas, which could be exhausted only by leading it to the logic limit. He isn't open to the work yet, which, having got the exhaustion of some idea, can refuse it and take another one, in this context much more fruitful. He sees the new somewhere outside the borders of the self-destructed old. He isn't still open to the idea that the new one is not somewhere there, but here, that it is immanent to any temporal and processional present. Progressive dialectical notions do not allow him to see, that the perspective is not only behind or in front (i. e. In quick production of new, which can get the form of the restored old) but in any point of space. Having collided with the fact of the art's exhaustion, Gutov is still moved by the humanistic heroism: he is, like the mythological titan is ready to resist the inevitability of an end by transforming the end into the exposition spectacle. Demonstrating the deconstruction of the humanistic concept of a person, he is not ready to step into the field of post-human. Looking at the art's decline he want to be the first to pronounce its end, he wants to be the first in realizing "the last final gesture". He doesn't even think that if the art has really finished, an artist can do something else. Nothing terrible will happen - neither for the artist, nor for art. .