The Other Iсon
Anya Zholud
May 19 - June 27, 2023
Anna Zhyolud's works turn the central message of simulacrum art upside-down by replacing its Magrittesque treachery of images with a dry statement of the object/fact. "This is a chair," claims an iron rod structure that you could not possibly sit on. "This is a pot", "… a mug", "…a teakettle", "…a pail". It's a world of absolute objects stripped of their practical usefulness and petrified in time.

In Zhyolud's world, things are cleansed down to the skeletal structure, ending up stuck at the border between recognition and dissolution. The spectator may be able to identify some linear form as a "house", but would be hard put to pinpoint a qualitative characteristic referencing any particular house. Zhyolud's art installations push us to the outer frontier of reality and leave us there, confronted with eternity on the other side, but unable to take that last step across. Once we step past the recognition of a skeletal house, we see a new object – not a house, possibly a parallelepiped, but really a firewall, the windowless side wall of a building.

The only chance we have of a brush with the world beyond familiar reality is to freeze on its frontier.

Having reached that frontier, we instantly rebound into the world of interpretation -- our imagination. But somewhere on our way to the realm of the imaginary lies our personal experience of perceiving the boundaries of our own reality before any interpretation kicked in. The space in which we ourselves are part of the absolute, frozen in time. We are real within this space of personal experience, and as unattainable to ourselves as is the essence of things beyond the confines of recognizable structures.

Repetition is the core element employed in such practices, and Zhyolud's work is no exception. Monotony erodes the perception of an individual object, inducing a trance. In Zhyolud's case, though, we find ourselves in the midst of a material, not spiritual, world. After a word is repeated a certain number of times, it will lose its meaning, becoming a senseless sequence of sounds, its own object. It's just a dipper. "Dipper, dipper, dipper…" And eventually, only the black outline of a cylindrical-shaped vessel with a long handle is left. This is the moment when we find ourselves here and now, face to face with reality. Anna Zhyolud has brought us here.

Text by Kirill Eltsov

The paintings were executed on drawing boards -- plywood on a stretcher, primer. The hard base was similar to gesso, and the painting process resembled the reading of the Lord's Prayer. Now I make garages out of metal rods, and again I'm drawing a kettle, albeit a different one this time, over and over. Well, a dipper and a pot too. The monotony and repetitiveness are akin to "Lord, have mercy! Lord, forgive me!" What do I believe in? I believe in the object, in materiality, in composition, and in equilibrium. Repeatedly depicting a white enameled kettle may be construed as a prayer. And envisaging the gallery space as a territory for display, in my mind's eye I see it as a shrine, a chapel with an iconostasis. The notions of "temple" and "museum" have been interchangeable for me since as far back as my childhood. Or maybe it's innate. To Zhyolud, the museum is a temple, and the temple is a museum.

Anya Zholud