Yehor's artistic practice is built around the theme of personal and collective memory. He is interested in the interpretations that familiar images take on when they enter the space of the visual unconscious. Antsyhin works in different techniques and roles: a trained painter, over the past 10 years he has been making installations and land art objects, curating exhibitions and managing a gallery. In 2022 he made a comeback to painting. When one cannot trust a documentary image, the constructed reality of painting seems to be a safer space. And when it is impossible to think crystal clear about the future, the muddled past takes over.
The first impression of these paintings is the insidious credibility of an image on the verge of hyperrealism. The objects on them mislead viewers into a friendly delusion. We could almost see ourselves, our real and phantom memories: a snowy slope in the Carpathian landscape, even if we have never taken up skiing; the smell of chlorine before jumping into a swimming pool, even though we hardly swam in the dark during blackouts; the euphoria of being united with people at demonstrations under Ukrainian flags, even if we were 3 years old in 1989—because it was the time when the video (which became the source for some of the paintings in the exhibition) was shot.
This artistic medium is not considered too politically reactive and sensitive to the changing pulse of society. However, for Antsyhin and many of his colleagues, the two-dimensional image on canvas was perhaps the most honest attempt to capture the mood of wartime with its confusion and inability to rely on one's own knowledge of the world from a "past life". Antsyhin does not try to tell a coherent story. Instead, he emphasises the impossibility of a coherent narrative as such: there are only fragments, or even shards, of history, which ultimately form the collective memory. The canvases selected for the exhibition at The Naked Room combine fragments of fragments: intimate moments of the artist's life with episodes of Ukraine's recent history as they were captured in the chronicles Yehor worked with.
The fondly recognisable mixes with the bizarrely imaginary at the exhibition. And it seems absolutely normal. After all, the proximity of Taras Shevchenko to a monumental fan can hardly surprise those whose media routine is equally filled with terrible, bitter, but also encouraging and sometimes even comical events.
Opening: 22 November at 7 pm, 21 Reitarska St, Kyiv