The artistic couple Vasil Artamonov and Alexey Klyuykov develops in their work an ambiguous strategy based on blending and reflecting diverse concepts, themes and approaches from which they create an informed, intellectually attuned, ironic mixture which, however, possesses a feel of immediacy. Individual authorship, creative originality, traditional role of painting, the modernity ethos, social and institutional critique, and other concepts from operation, theory, and history of contemporary art become the subject of a multi-layered play.

For the Set gallery they have created an installation entitled Studio in a Block of Flats. The installation utilizes the given architectural and spatial arrangement and responds to its formal structuring and subtle details of technical nature, as well as its institutional context of a gallery-museum. The installation is based on grasping the basic structural givens, although, formally, the authors use them more loosely, rather like assonances that encourage an interplay of cross-references, hints, theses and antitheses, so that moments of irony, allusions, ideas, and playfulness can unfurl, while adhering to a system of subtle rules.

The installation is distributed into four formally composed wholes, in which images, visual, and textual elements, as well as minute objects, become components of a more complex arrangement. In the first booth a diagonal is the defining structuration element, in the second, the elements are concentrated toward the left side, in the third, to the right, and, in the fourth, the layout of the elements is symmetrical. The exhibited paintings are, at certain moments, connected together by their subject matter, while, at times, they merely simulate this connection. The minute technical conditionalities are thematized in a similar fashion – air-conditioning vents, power points, cameras and security systems, or added heating devices, all become a part of the compositional structuring of the installation and, conversely, artworks or visual and informational textual elements are incorporated into the structure co-determined by these usually overlooked utilitarian components. If we focus on the nature of the painting itself, we shall realize that it is used in some kind of a multivalent mode. Realistic, even socialistically realistic works in their theme and treatment are collocated with cubist works and conceptually minimalistic paintings-objects. If we are to add works that are ambivalent in their meaning, even playfully absurd, or studio portraits, we are left with richly structured, and interlaced on many levels, reflection of the history of modern painting, and modern art as a whole.

The installation Studio in a Block of Flats by Vasil Artamonov and Alexey Klyuykov may be characterized as a playful visual and conceptual interpretation of a particular space, formal and expressional artistic means, as well as a general nature, theory, and history of art, including its institutional and operational framework.

Kamil Nábělek

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