Sunday, November 21, 2010

Sunday Morning Coffee: Sergei Isupov's Narrative Sculpture; Super-Cats Save San Francisco

[As always, all copyright held by the artist, in this case Sergei Isupov.]

Sergei Isupov is draftsman of the enigmatic, a craftsman of the uncanny. (Click here for Isupov's website.) We were enthralled yesterday at his new show, at the Barry Friedman gallery in Chelsea (NYC). We first encountered his magical creations as part of the Ferrin Gallery presentation at the SOFA show in NYC two years ago.

Isupov is hard to categorize, a visual polymath, a throwback to an earlier age of studied technique, connoisseurship, and historical research. He seems first and foremost a Rabelaisian teller of stories, a sketcher of epigram and mysterious vignette...who chose to paint his stories...and who then decided that traditional canvas and paper were not sufficient and so turned to porcelain and stoneware as his main media. So: enigmas draped over and around busts and boots, like minor deities protruding into our world from some other dimension.

His huge stoneware heads are serene, contemplative, but their foreheads and cheeks are covered by human bodies, or small faces, or limbs...and they usually have an utterly different face on the back of the skull. Further adding to the ambiguity are the tableaus painted on the base of the statues, scenes of nets, horses, naked bodies in flight, men and women reaching out uncertainly to one another. The thinker's thoughts made visible, the agitation beneath the surface.

My favorites are his polychromatic porcelain boots, each about two feet tall, with titles like "Flight in the Dreams and Awake." Frequently there are disembodied hands attached to the boot, like the hands of God so typical of religious imagery from the European Renaissance. Boots left by Mercury after a long night's travels, emblazoned with the stories of those he encountered along the way?

Isupov is a warm spirit, his grotesques presented with love and a genuine desire to understand humanity in all our strangeness.

Speaking of strangeness, I cannot resist sharing this image (which I found at io9):

To quote the io9 article by Annalee Newitz: "...a group of San Francisco artists decorated the front of the boarded-up Harding Theater with the greatest work of LOL-based art the world has ever seen.

Aggressive Panhandler's Andrew Dalton is responsible for spotting this artwork with his laser eyes....

Find out more about the artists who created this mural: Bunnie Reiss, Ezra Li Eismont, and Garrison Buxton."

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