DUBOSSARSKY AND VINOGRADOV'S "NEW SINCERITY". Text by Viktor Misiano
Dubosarsky and Vinogradov's art is devoted to the affirmation of the undeniable truth - that the day today is a consequence of yesterday's day. Or to be more precise - that the past not only predefines the present but also continues to live within it. At the beginning of the 1990's, when Dubosarsky and Vinogradov were setting out the tenets of their poetics, this thesis sounded extremely radical. Back then it seemed that with the end of the Soviet era, everything was beginning afresh. Dubosarsky and Vinogradov were amongst those few who recalled that it was out of this sense of a radical renewal of life and, simultaneously, an irrevocable end of the previous era that the Soviet times had begun. However, this mindset, that defined the beginning of both Soviet and post-Soviet history, did not - as is well known - last long. Moreover, history presupposes not only that nothing stays in one place in life, but also that each new phase of the present finds within itself its own analogy with the past. Dubosarsky and Vinogradov's art also affirms this undeniable truth...
Over the course of many years at the centre of Dubosarsky and Vinogradov's retrospective interests was an art form called "the thematic picture" in Soviet times. This would be a massive canvas with a developed narrative appealing to a socially significant theme. Socialist realist theoreticians insisted that artists should "avoid the naturalistic imitation of reality" and "to recreate it in the light of the Communist ideal." This blue print for the ideal has been substituted by Dubosarsky and Vinogradov's inclusion of mass media imagery in their paintings. On the one hand, this had the purpose of rendering profane the possibility of any sort of ideal or ideology today. On the other hand, it emanated out of the fact that the mass media, presents certain ideal forms of life to the mass consciousness and it is this that fulfils the role of ideology in our days.
Dubosarsky and Vinogradov's new cycle of paintings "In the region" no longer refer to the thematic picture (the predominant artistic form of the Stalin decades), instead replacing this era with the period of the "thaw". Society in the middle of the 1950's witnessed the arrival of the values of a private life and everyday hedonism in exchange for the social mobilisation and horror of the terror, and thus in art "the thaw" turned its back on the discipline of the thematic picture. In that period Stalinist painting was branded by the theoreticians as "a varnish on reality" and the cult of "sincerity" was proclaimed - a spiritual openness to the emotional warmth and the joyful acceptance of being. The works of the painters of this period became much smaller in size, the heroic narrative was replaced with a greater studiedness, the social political correctness was substituted by the extra-social cult of nature and the enchantment of the momentary. All these features of the art of "the thaw" are present in the works that make up "In the region" and raise the question: what did Dubosarsky and Vinogradov personally want to say, on discovering this specific analogy from the past on this occasion?
In its time the first "thaw", which discovered for itself the simple values of everyday life, was a reaction to the exalted, superhuman and consequently repressive and inhuman values of the Stalin era. Dubosarsky and Vinogradov's second "thaw" is evidently nothing other than an attempt to simply discover at least some sort of values. And, evidently the simple values of everyday life are the only possible values after twenty years in which it was the accepted thing to revile any values because they inevitably lead to repression and inhumanity.
However, unlike the artists of the first "thaw", who thought that the break from ideological norms that had been granted them would last forever, Dubosarsky and Vinogradov know that this pause in the 1950's would soon be substituted by a new mobilisation in 60's and that the so called "austere style" would replace these etude paintings. The permanence of the cycles and fortunes of history are yet another irrefutable truth which lies at the heart of Dubosarsky and Vinogradov's art. If the artists of the Soviet era lived in the present as if it were the future; then the artists of the post-Soviet era are living in the present as if it were the past.
Moscow, February 2010
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