23.04.2021 – 23.05.2021
Triumph Gallery, Moscow
The Strange Days series by Kirill Ashasteen emerges from personal experience of certain fears and phobias that have haunted the artist for the past year. He attempted to creatively process his own psychological states through their visual transformation. The paintings on display form a series of landscapes that are executed with the artist’s typical commitment to the digital aesthetic, which is constructed with the materials and techniques common in street art. The artist seems to depict some futuristic, or even alien landscapes, as if drawing from the early Ridley Scott. In fact, however, these represent artistic perception of real landscapes. During a long trip to the Russian south, Kirill was stunned with the images of impassable arid lands, ridden with cracks. On top of the dusky skies in the background of his works at the exhibition, we see small — like screen interference or glitches — drops of rain. The centre of the composition foregrounds either overblown ‘stone’ drops, or pills of various shapes, or strange cacti with trunks resampling asphalt or Moon rock. Some works contain amorphous goldish substance, as if molten metal splattered in the centre of the composition. This is none other than a personification of the artist, his alter ego, balancing between a limited and an invasive presence in the depicted world.
The works by Kirill address the issue of total-digitalisation fatigue, which often drives anxiety. Also, he makes a critique of the shifting social focus away from the environmental problems and disasters more towards an obsession with the progress of digital technology. Immersing the viewer into ideal digital landscapes, the artist reminds us of the value in live nature and its infinite variety and uniqueness.
The final touch to the exposition is a site-specific installation that creates an irreal space of an imagined natural landscape, as if some terrain was transplanted from a computer game. The faceless cookie-cutter succulent plants grow against the background of a rain wall that looks like flicker or striations of a broken TV; above them is a fiery otherworldly sun. Magnificently, the artist aptly produces the effect of a vacuum, airless artificial space, which is conspicuously devoid of life, and to such degree that the thought of this need to get out and get some air, to feel the cool breeze on the skin, the warmth of Sun rays, or wet raindrops does indeed become obsessive.