Ilya Gaponov and Kirill Koteshov

gaponovIlya Gaponov was born in Kemerovo (1981). He graduated from the National School of Fine Arts ( Paris, 2004). In 2007 he graduated from the St. Petersburg StateIndustrial Art Academy n. a. V. Muhina. Kiryll Koteshov was born in Kemerovo (1983). He graduated from the St.Petersburg StateIndustrial Art Academy n. a. V. Muhina (2007). Solo exhibitions: “Altar/Category 5”. “Yakut-gallery” (2006), “Synthetic cults”. Gallery “Navicula Artis”, St. Petersburg (2006), participated in “Art-Moscow” (2007).

The Kuzbass ( KuznetskCoalBasin) project of Iliya Gaponov and Kiryll Koteshov goes back to the murals of the Soviet period, but the composition is stripped of the painstakingly made descriptively-symbolic constructions, specific to this genre. Here the unusual material — “Kuzbass-varnish”, which is used in painting, becomes the significent element. Chemically it is one of the fractions in the treatment of coal, usually used in waterproofing work. The image of coal is one of the essential components of the romanticism of 19th century technological progress. It is the main food for fire-spouting steam engines, which have allowed man, once and for all, to assert his supremacy over nature. Behind this romanticism is hidden the horror and earthly hell of miners’ settlements covered in corrosive coal dust, and dead mountains of pit refuse. Going underground here is a part of daily life. The mine is a temple: here one is dressed, fed, cured and buried with honours. And painting aesthetics in MuhinaCollege’s department of monumental painting, formed on the mosaic panels, murals and easel portraits of the Soviet period, suddenly acquire surprising freshness in the description not of the propaganda heroics, but of the drama of the “underground front’s” forgotten heroes. Stahanov died, Socialism died, Post-Modernism died.
The miner — lives!

Dmitri Pilikin

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