Home > Articles > Reactualization of sensuous  

Reactualization of sensuous

Dr. Alexander Borovsky, “Reactualization of sensuous”, Dialog Iskusstv magazine, Russia, 1.2014, 138-139

The artist Daria Bagrintseva has a rare appetite for depiction - so strong that she did not care about working out any self-presentation strategy. Which is a surprise in our time, when an art student’s mind has an instinctive filter of institutional and discursive effects on the production of its own art. Whether it will be critical enough, or will it sufficiently oppose itself to the strict totality of the existing order? How will it be perceived by a consumer? Who is actually a contemporary, a member of the same brotherhood, a typical graduate of the same advanced  institutions. The one who would not bother to pick up a brush or even undertake a “found-object” without strategies and ideologies: he had been trained so.
 
Bagrintseva studied at the Stroganov Moscow Art Academy, which is quite a stubborn institution. But in opposite: no punditry at all; you’ve been taught principles of creating an imaging, therefore, follow the rules, paint and make no sin. Here's a background. In this scenario, Bagrintseva with her almost physiological appetite for visualization would establish a non-stop production of pictures Actually, that’s the way it has been from the beginning: lots of exhibitions in Russia, in the West and in the East. The galleries didn’t matter, because, after all, exposure is just a sort of consumption. Step by step, audience and buyers were found, and the business was getting better and better. All would be well, but picturesque realization of the young artist was extraordinary. Pictorial representation as such is now fashionable to blame in the conceptual failure. In Bagrintseva's situation, we really will not find hyper reflexivity in works. Instead, they contain some sort of hypersensitivity to inner imaginations, and to the essence of the her subject matter. To the temperature of the material.
 
Gilles Deleuze, French philosopher, describing the phenomenon of Francis Bacon, gave a simple yet basic idea, which is very important for understanding figurative painting. The implication is: figurative image is the unity of the sentient and the perceived; it gives and it experiences perception. That is when a spectator feels it as experience sensation. When it becomes his personal experience. As an exemplary image, Deleuze, as I remember, gives someone’s expression "the appleness of an apple." Of course, this young artist is not always at that level of unity. But Daria’s best early works contain a kind of interaction between the viewer and the image, like a broadcast of the perceived by the depicted. So, using the philosopher’s metaphoric again, we can say that this artist is able to convey "the dragonflyness af a dragonfly", "the fish fishiness", and the “foaminess” of the crest of a wave. I repeat, Bagrintseva didn’t always achieve the same effect of two-way communication with the subject of the image; often her rush of depicting the image sidetracked her away from the depiction. This is especially noticeable in her works made in travel: sometimes, her passion for spicy stories poured into manifestation of exotic, and nothing more. But still, she has some amazing things of getting right in the heart of the subject. I remember being surprised by her "Wasp" at the "Born to fly and crawl" exhibition in the Russian Museum. The exhibition, as it seems to me, has been underestimated. It was the first and brilliant attempt to represent the powerful "ethnological" (Derzhavin-Mandelstam-Nabokov) line of Russian visual culture in all diversity of its connotations. Daria Bagrintseva has been competing there with almost all eminent artists, who have ever paid attention to drawing insects - grasshoppers, dragonflies, bees, flies, etc. And in her "Wasp" Daria showed almost scientific fidelity of portraying external structure of membranous-wings stalked-belly insect. But the main thing here is the sensitivity to, what I’d call, insects’ private life. I mean not the V.Pelevin’s social allegory, like in the novel “Life of Incects”, but more like children's exactingness of learning the world order through "little ones" samples, those who are the closest to the horizon of a child (remember, everyone's first book was something like "Ants Do Not Give Up"). Probably, the only one, who can copmete with that children’s unconsciously deep, solid, syncretic level of penetration into the world of insects, is Osip Mandelstam with his "armed by the vision of narrow wasps". The poet has described the wasp image with incredible tactile feeling. Like the very air, the atmosphere literally "embody" the nature of the stinging insect. So, Bagrintseva’s "hitting her subject right on target” is due to her ability to capture the response impulse, capturing the insect’s own “vision” and condition not just on a visual level but on a tactile feeling level as well, on the level of art media condition: the optically sharp one, the hyper-focused, - “stinging”, and at the same time – filled with some sort of vibration – the monotonous buzzing analogue.
 
New phase in the artist’s development is associated with attention to topics of a sensual, carnal and sexually physical. Here the artist acts without restraining, which is rare for our art. She acts in full freedom with no styling, (such as that found in love of "forgotten dead", the tradition of sexual painting dating back to so called “Mir isskustva” – or “World of Art” times), nor in line with modern feminist discourse conceptualization. I do not know if it is reacted or not, but Bagrintseva opposes the socio-critical standards of this discourse. "Feminist pencil" (named after the famous exhibition) focuses on moments of oppression and repression. Bagrintseva - on emancipation of the bodily principle and the experience of loving. In her works, according to Shakespeare's sonnet, "body smells like body," rather than, let's say, like a social concept. Someone might be annoyed by her portrayals, but I find this sensual realism attractive for myself. 
These days, Daria is working on a series named "Seven Deadly Sins". Such modernistic idea can cause an ironic response today, in an era that shuns "grand narratives". Only the single-minded artist can take on so much. Bagrintseva, as it seems, is not afraid of criticism. She is “saved” by her balance between the natural, her appetite for visualization and her understanding of the necessity of meditation. She feels meditation as reduction of the pop-art instrumentality. Thus, a naive arrogance of approach  to biblical truths is reflected and turned into a meaningful motion. It is a lot: a personal tone is always important, especially in the approaches to the phenomena of special scale.
 
Dr. Alexander Borovsky,
Head of the Department of Contemporary Art State Russian Museum