Courtesy of the artist
“Polygnotus portrayed people as the best, Pauso as the worst, and Dionysius as like us. Unfortunately, we will never see those images of the Greek authors that Aristotle wrote about. We can only wonder how the subsequent world history of art fts into Aristotle’s three defnitions. Section number three has always fascinated me. People are like us. We.”
“And thus I say that e fgies of things, And tenuous shapes from o f the things are sent, From o f the utmost outside of the things, Which are like flms or may be named a rind, Because the image bears like look and form”
– Excerpt from De Rerum Natura by Lucretius, 1st century BC
Olga Chernysheva often weaves her works around unexpected moments, some magical, some banal, but that always prove to be revelatory for the society in which she lives and works, post-Soviet Russia, with all its contradictions.
In Efgies of Tenuous Shapes, Chernysheva captures remnants of urban celebrations – what is left behind in the wake of a communal gathering. Discarded gloves remain, like memory handprints from the ghosts of a party past. Composed in Chernysheva’s characteristically lyrical style, the flm is a re fective commentary on the strange ways the recent COVID-19 pandemic manifested in day-to-day life, when the gathering of people was suddenly perceived as a threat. The main character is a Central Asian migrant worker, re fecting the new demographic landscape of the post-Soviet world in which millions of workers from former Soviet Republics in Asia have migrated to Russia, often for menial jobs. With a similar sense of poetry and lucid awareness of social contradictions, the watercolour series Anxiety illustrates moments of rest, waiting, and labour.
Chernysheva references the Roman poet and philosopher Lucretius’s didactic poem De Rerum Natura, the title of which translates to On the Nature of Things. The universe described in the poem operates not according to the divine intervention of traditional Roman deities but is rather guided by Fortuna, the goddess of chance.