Vitaly Barabanov: The Practice of Plein-air

Osnova Gallery is presenting the new show of emergent artist Vitaly Barabanov. In the project The Practise of Plein-air the artist conceptualize the relationships of art and nature. The works created in the open air are the evidence of creative process not from the ‘outside’, but from the ‘inside’ of the nature.

Nature is over. At least it was said in Time Magazine in 2012 and it was echoed by many others. But all that was left of nature at this moment is more important than ever. The points of contact between natura and cultura become reference points for social life as a whole as well as for individuals. Whether it is Chernobyl disaster, hurricane Katrina, global warming, or the most seemingly traditional journey into the country. In the same line it is quite natural to point out the communication between people and domesticated cats and dogs. This relationships cannot be described only by the term “domestication” because it changes not only the animal, but the man himself. But how is it possible to show the contact process? Is there a way to fix it? Artist Vitaly Barabanov examines these issues in his project The Practice of Plein-air. Even in the title the artist refers to the historical experience of the unity of an artist and nature.

The idea, that a work created in the open air (en plein air) was firstly formed in the 19th century and finds its development in Barabanov monochrome paintings . Work that is made in a fairly conservative medium of painting is, in a certain sense, a forced choice. To discover this connection between man and nature a certain language is required, the language whose material basis is itself a part of the latter.

By applying painting in his works, the artist goes beyond its traditional understanding and documents the process of communication between man and nature. Rethinking the situationist practice derive, he explores rural spaces in Moscow region.

Living in the countryside, Barabanov regularly goes for a walk with his dog in the surrounding fields and forests. Taking a blank canvas, he uses it as a mat to sit down on the grass, or kneel down and pet his dog, or binds it to the leg to catch its movement on the ground. He seeks to create painting within nature, rather than depicting it from the outside. The artist creates the pictorial production not as the ultimate goal, but only as a witness. Picture defines the act of the union with nature as arttistic act, being a document held outside the institutional framework of the process. At the end of the process the author only perpetuates traces of himself, plants, insects, animals using lacquer.

Vitaly Barabanov creates a closed communication chain — the artist activates nature, nature activates painting, painting activates the artist. In place of modernist self-reflection comes self-referencing painting production within nature. The works of the project Practice of The Plein-air are firmly embedded in the relations natura – cultura. They state human being only as one of the “aggregate states” of nature. Vitaly Barabanov is trying to conceive art that takes into account not only human, but also other life forms, thus opening up new horizons of emancipation

text: Ivan Novikov