Dimitri Shabalin was born in 1993. He studied at the journalism faculty in the Lomonosov Moscow State University, after which he entered the Institute for Contemporary Art in Moscow. Shabalin worked as a fashion section editor for the magazines Numéro and Interview from 2013 to 2016. Since 2013 he has been studying the phenomenon of the mask in world history and creating his own art objects from recycled materials. In 2017, Dimitri became one of five artists representing Russia at Revelations, the International Fine Craft & Creation Biennial, held at Paris' Grand Palais. He lives and works in Moscow.
Dimitri Shabalin came to prominence thanks to his masks, assembled from the most diverse materials: Christmas ornaments, watches, baking tins, pins, precious stones… Dimitri made his first mask from his own childhood toys, which was then worn by vibrant artist Andrey Bartenev for a Numéro photo shoot. The "found objects", assembled as if pieces of a child's construction set, gained new life in Shabalin's art.
The tradition of conferring everyday objects found at random with artistic merit is at least as old as Marcel Duchamp, whose revelations were subsequently reworked in the Nouveau Réalisme movement of the 1960s. These new realists, the most lauded of which were Yves Klein, Arman, and Jean Tinguely, poetically transformed the most prosaic items from reality. The artists integrated industrial waste, machinery, toys, and hair into their artworks, reactivating fragments of the post-war era that had not yet recovered from the chaos.
In Shabalin's artistic creations, compiled from objects that the artist came across in his daily life, one can feel the spirit of today's popular culture through the prism of the artist's experiences. Shabalin invents images based on his dreams and recollections from childhood. He is by the masked icons of modern media reality – characters from the video game Mortal Kombat, Spiderman, and other superheroes. He has also long been fascinated with the mystical stories of Ancient Egypt and images of its pharaohs and priests. Each of his masks corresponds to a specific character, and together they take part in various storylines. They are warriors, gods, princes, animals, aliens, and heroes of popular culture whose images so often find their way into works by Neo-Pop artists. One of Shabalin's first acclaimed projects was his series of masks for a collection of designer Ria Keburia that combined the Renaissance with new technology – Robossance – in which the artist used Transformers as the inspiration for his masks. The collection was shown in Tbilisi and Moscow. The artist acknowledges that he had been an admirer of Alexander McQueen since his school days, and that the idea of making masks came to him after attending a Margiela Artisanal show where the models' faces were all hidden under masks. Dimitri believes that fashion helped him to find the ideal objet d'art; he then began working with it.
In 2017, Dimitri Shabalin's works of art were shown at the Revelations International Fine Craft & Creation Biennial in Paris. Five Russian artists showed their work at the Grand Palais that year, including Olga Soldatova. In 2018, Shabalin's solo exhibition, Particles, was held at the Apothecary Garden, Moscow State University's botanical gardens. Fifteen masks were positioned in mid-air among the palm trees, carnivorous plants, and orchids, while visitors were tasked with the challenge of finding them in the exotic jungles.
2020 - STATE OF EMERGENCY - Triumph Gallery, Moscow
2019 - THIS IS STILL LIFE - PA Gallery. Moscow
2019 - EARTH / HEAVEN - Agency. Art Ru, Moscow
2018 - PARTICLES - Solo exhibition. Apothecary Garden, the Botanical Gardens of Moscow State University, Moscow
2017 - SCARY STORIES - GROUND Gallery, Moscow
2017 - NEO: SUSTAINABLE FASHION - Russian National Museum of Decorative, Applied, and Folk Art, Moscow
2017 - AHAHAMOSCOW - ART4.ru Museum and Auction of Contemporary Art, Moscow
2017 - MON trésor - Russian Tea Room Gallery, Paris2017 REVELATIONS, International Fine Craft Biennale, Grand Palais, Paris
2016 - WOW: Architecture of Fantasy, Shchusev State Museum of Architecture, Moscow
2016 - FACE OFF - AIR Moscow, Moscow
2016 - I WOULD DIE FOR - Bernheimer Contemporary Gallery, Berlin
2016 - NEW GODS - Polyanka4 Gallery, Sochi
2015 - SAY I LOVE YOU - Moscow Museum of Contemporary Art, Moscow
2015 - VISUALIZATION OF SOUND - WeArt Gallery, Moscow
2014 - PARAFORMA 2.0 - Solo Exhibition. AIR Moscow, Moscow
2013 - PARAFORMA 1.0 - Erarta Museum of Contemporary Art, St. Petersburg