Anton Morokov

In the Middle of Blankness
06.09.2017 - 24.09.2017, Triumph Gallery

The limits of my language means the limits of my world
Ludwig Wittgenstein. Tractatus logico-Philosophicus

In the early 2010s, at a time of fast-paced economic crisis and destruction of the urban environment (including historical and architectural heritage of the late XIX—beginning of ХХ centuries) a new art movement that was called “Nizhny Novgorod Street Art” appeared in Nizhny Novgorod. Artists preferred dialogue with the urban community to the conflict that is characteristic of graffiti; pieces of art were created with the unspoken consent or open support of citizens that boosted the development of its own unique aesthetics and methods of work with the urban landscape.

Presently, Nizhny Novgorod Street Art should not be considered as a single integral structure, the concept of the street art itself, if anything, denotes the history of an art movement formation rather than describes the up-to-date strategies of individual artists. The only thing that remains unchanged is the idea of internal and external communication: self-organization and creation of alternative institutional formations (workshops “Studenaya” and “Tikhaya”, “TOLK” gallery, festival “New City: Ancient”, “Museum of Nizhny Novgorod Intelligentsia”, online archive of Nizhny Novgorod street art.); collective work—starting from strictly organized art groups to temporary project formations; interrelation with local context and flexibility of visual and conceptual responses to its changes.

Despite the historically developed affiliation with the “Nizhny Novgorod Street Art” that steadily entrenched into the professional community, Anton Morokov stands apart from them all in this system. Pieces of art that exist in the streets — large-scale monochrome painting on the walls of houses and other buildings as well as small studio works displayed within the urban streetscape — contribute to the artist portfolio and grant a wide public representation to his visual experiences but they should not be deemed as key or meaningful ones. The basic framework of his works includes graffiti that impose the ascetic nature of artistic devices and controllability of their application as well as the concurrent experiments with other media — silk screening, engravings, and painting. Graphic sheets that “emerged” from sketchbooks typical for the culture of the street art gradually transformed into conceptual albums that are used by the artist, following Ilya Kabakov and Viktor Pivovarov, while he studies the idea of “series” and develops the systems of interrelations between the concept, the visual image and the text.

Within every series the artist uses the limited set of visual information units—single-type and at the same time Nizhny-Novgorod-type hyperaestheticized images (birds, arrows, feathers, checks and etc.). They form image-formulas that like mathematical formulas describe some fragments of the environment. Minor differences that are connected with the quantity and composite location of individual elements, absence or presence of handwritten or typewritten comments or pseudoquotations (marked as a quotation of the fragment from the non-existing text) are accumulated inside these images. Unlike practices of Moscow Conceptual art, the series and individual works within these series do not have some narrative origin, they form sort of “The Library of Babel” by Jorge Luis Borges: all the necessary information units are available but it is technically impossible to gather them all into a plot or a message.

Alisa Savitskaya