Anya Zholud has been living in a little village called Arinino, which is located 74km from Moscow city center and is also close to the city Gshel, for already many years now.
The artist has not only been living and working in this little village, but she has also founded a museum for her own works and the works of her colleagues.
It is like a small permanent Biennale, consisting of many small pavilions behind a classic Russian house.
Zholud has gained a lot of respect and appreciation among the small Russian artistic community of her generation. Many of her fellow artists donated important works to this unique place.
However Arinino and the village are of great relevance for Zholud’s works. The life, the house and generally all the objects, by which Zholud is surrounded, play a major role in the visualization of her works. Many of the motives of her paintings and sculptural works can be found in her house.
Zholud’s work landscape is an abstract portrait of a typical Russian village and is of great importance regarding all her artistic creations.
Anya Zholud has gained almost instant recognizability. She premiered a couple of years ago, at the peak of glamorization of national mainstream. In its context Zholud's wire reinforcing objects with traces of welding scale assumed a sort of nearly polemic character. Those were not living room or office interiors, albeit the presence of some didactics of an assembly and operation manual. They were projections of a proper lifestyle, without luxuries, presentations and stimulators of "broadening of consciousness." The timeliness of Zholud's message was appreciated: the rye-bread of rusty armature and middle school geometry in an epoch of excess.
Besides the lure of direct sociality, the formula and extremely reduced shaping developed by Zholud possesses one more bait. The bait of pure minimalism of Donald Judd's and Sol LeVitt's type. The formula character of Zholud's objects bears the traces of similar phenomenological reduction: a desire "to shake off" the burden of functional-object similarity and to achieve delight of appeal to pure speculation. Both temptations - social and minimalist representing certain matrices of consciousness - exist in the form of potentials. The artist moves around the space between these poles. In the "Not the Same Artist" project Zholud further increases the tension between the conceptual (governing, analytical, emblematic) and corporal (tactile, emotional, etc).
The action "Anya Zholud in the Russian Museum" brings together several lines in the art of Zholud. On the plywood cases meant for packing the art works by one of the artists, who held an exhibition in the Russian Museum, Zholud pained her traditional everyday (genre) themes - articles of daily use, both domestic and office. In terms of pure plasticality these objects develop the line which, at its beginning, I approximated to early Roginsky. Only once, in the Red Door readymade, Roginsky managed to literally step "out the canvass" into a new space - the door was quite real, concrete. Zholud has long been working in three-dimensional space, as if modeling in her installations the ideal "milieu d'existence". At the same time this "as if" is her creed: it is not the environmental design, it is a complex field of interrelation between the conceptual and the corporal. Nevertheless, in this case the representations are traditionally two-dimensional, the way out is only implied. The cases represent real three-dimensionality and literal exit into another, real space. Thus, Zholud articulates her fundamental artistic tenet: transition from depicted-spatial into real-spatial and vice versa. With all concomitant connotations of the tactile-corporal and conceptually-mediated.
The usage of packing materials in the capacity of an art vehicle is, actually, a multiple-meaning ploy. Right here is the post-modernistic packaging and storaging mania, once intentionally thematized by the exhibition at the famous P.S.1 Contemporary Art Center. And the favourite subject of contemporary art - relationship with a museum. Zholud's interpretation of it is similarly ambivalent, in the tideway of her branded poetics of transitivity: right here is the delight at penetrating into a museum, albeit "on the shoulders" of another painter, and irony, lowering of intonation - an allusion to "Greeks bearing gifts."
Naturally, she doesn't attribute this mischievous hint to herself. And right she is. Anya Zholud does her work earnestly, and rapidly; to get into a museum she will have no use for packing cases from anyone else's exhibitions...
Indoor Plant. Full Version (press-release)
Not long ago Anya Zholud was known as a young talent, who studied the "system of things", casting their contours in metal. In 2009 Zholud's unpredictable installation "Communications" won critics of the 53rd Venice Biennale. The graceful unnarative character of her works and their spatial flexibility are in tune with the experiments of famous Parisian Tatiana Truver.
In the new project "Indoor Plant. Full Version" Zholud once again applies the artistic techniques of mimicry and does it in unprecedented big way. She transforms the gallery into the experimental space, free from commercial functions. In the gallery Zholud reproduces her suburban studio on a scale of 1 to 1. Faced with the five-meter structure, a viewer does not recognize spacious gallery white cube, does not see familiar architectural and interior elements. But having found the entrance, he reaches the inner sanctum - the artist's studio.
An early version of "Indoor Plant" was shown on March 8, 2009 in St. Petersburg in the Zholud's apartment, that had been turned into a typical artist-run-space "An object in a district".
It seemed that thorny-brittle metal rods, eaten by rust, had grown from concrete flower pots. So work embodied the author's metaphor: the material always has its own life and temper. Zholud coexists with this unruly media for almost a year, having made of it a project "Not the same artist" and a triumphal Venice installation. It is this spiny, but image-bearing material excites Anya's imagination, now occupying all her creative space.
To overcome tightness in the frames of tested techniques, audience expectations or institutional boundaries Zholud will continue in the following projects of 2010: "Hammer" Gisich Gallery, "Golden Fleece" in the Antique halls of the Hermitage museum, and at the personal exhibition" Continuation of the exhibition, scheduled for May 2010 at the Moscow Museum of Modern Art.
Gynecological Office (press-release)
Anya Zholud, a young artist from St. Petersburg, has enjoyed a quick rise to prominence on the Moscow art scene since her debut there two years ago. Her works are instantly recognizable thanks to her trademark style-three-dimensional outlines of everyday objects assembled from thin metal rods. With these contour drawings in air, Zholud inverts sculpture's traditional treatment of volume and depth. Rather than carving away from a whole in the manner of classical sculpture or using the modernist technique of accumulating fragments, Zholud shapes empty space by placing limits on it, using contours to create shapes without surfaces. One might say her work has less in common with sculpture than with etching, another medium that constructs images from thin lines and the contrast of positive and negative space. She tends to assemble her sculptures in installations-a living room furnished with armchairs and couches, a bedroom with a closet full of clothes-where the floors and walls are visible through each ghost-like piece. In the past, Zholud has favored domestic interiors, perhaps because the cozy ordinariness that the outlined objects suggest is sharply at odds with the phantom quality of the empty outlines, and with the cold, metallic material.
But Zholud's new installation Gynecological Office exploits the inhuman aspect of the material, and the way it enables her to show X-ray versions of objects with clinical clarity. The outlined objects in the installation include a cot, an IV drip, an examination chair, cabinets and desks with medical instruments. Zholud's depiction of a gynecologist's office plays on the unease that medical tools evoke in the public imagination, whether the associations are with the uncomfortable sensation of cold metal penetrating the body, or anxiety about disease and death that a visit to the doctor's office brings. The imagery Zholud was working with in Gynecological Office promised impact among a broad audience, and so she attempted to expand the viewer base beyond the usual gallery-goers with a public intervention. For the installation's debut in St. Petersburg last year, Zholud rented a commercial space and placed a notice in the newspaper advertising a gynecologist's office. Prospective patients arrived at the indicated address only to find themselves inside the installation-and surely, their surprise at the sight of the phantom office magnified any other anxiety they may have felt on the way to see the doctor.
Zholud's investigation of historical traditions of drawing and sculpture has yielded a style that is as accessible as it is unnerving. Her willingness to experiment with modes of display in order to take advantage of her work's rich communicative power says a great deal about the artist's acumen and ambition. Gynecological Office's thematic departure from Zholud's earlier domestic installations shows that the expressive possibilities of her technique is far from exhausted, and in fact has just begun to reveal its potential.
The Iron Wedding (press-release)
Anya Zholud is a young artist from St. Petersburg. Since she appeared on the Moscow art scene just one year ago, she has become one of the most renowned figures. One gets the impression that Zholud's constructions, visualized objects (furniture, clothes, and even electric appliances) and tokens of the real world, were not made of thin iron rods, but they were drawn instead with a very sharp pencil the size of the real world. Whit her new project she continues her scrupulous enumeration of the things which fill our life. "The Iron Wedding" consists of a nomenclature of symbols of a wedding, such as high heels shoes or lace underwear for "that particular situation", made of metal signifying a spiritual fortress.
Working with rough materials (stone, metal, etc.) is commonly considered to be not for women. Usually, what is, a little depreciatingly, called "decorative-applied art" is the field thought to be reserved to women. Zholud lacks that feminine attention to details, little things, and embellishment which disrupt the integrity of an image - and sometimes even break it. Her works are visually fragile, but physically solid like a garden fence. They are unique for their radical lack of form, for their rarefaction, for their minimalist interpretation of a given image. This is not sculpture in the traditional sense of the word. In Zholud's constructions there is no classical "tenseness, surface, monolith and density". They are not enlarged reproductions of chimeras, which is a typical trend of today's mainstream sculpture. In the works of contemporary sculptors such as Patricia Piccinini or Gavin Turk, one feels the desire to surprise, to fool the viewers, to convince them (even if it just for half a second) that they are looking at a real natural phenomenon and not at an artefact, rather than the will to break in two the resistance of the material. Zholud is not keen on surprising effects or mystifications. Her style is an elegant combination of the world of things and the world of ideas and her works are almost academic studies from nature. In order to create a true picture of the world, or better, "a picture that can be entered, in the literarily sense of the word", the artist appropriates the size of real objects; she observes how they interact with space.
Zholud already feels that today sculpture is not enough for the representation of an object. She dreams of a total installation and believes that is it pertinent to an artist to crave for gigantomania and utopia. "Brutality charms!" - she says - "When I stand in front of a closed level crossing, my spirit is carried away waiting for the train to pass by. What kind of wagons are they going to be? At what speed? They pass by, rusty and dirty with tar, glossy and ragged, all different, one more beautiful than the other. I think: they are never going to stop. And I am ready to watch them for ever. This is how art should be! And metallic outline of underwear or furniture, they are only fakes. Now, should we build a house from beginning to end or complete, let's say, only two floors?"
An extract of Review from a Newspaper «Коммерсант»
The Aidan Gallery (the Moscow Contemporary Art Center «WINZAVOD») presents a new exhibition by Anya Zholud Iron Wedding. Having examined the installation constructed of metal wires in distinctive Zholud's manner, Anna Tolstova decided that the union of young artist and contemporary art will be enduring and successful.
A 27 years old artist from St Petersburg Anya Zholud, moved to Moscow two years ago, now she seems to have adapted completely to the capital artistic subculture.
She portrays ordinary items, makes objects and installations, but she is mainly known due to one series of metal structures. With thin wires she outlines various clothes and pieces of furniture: tables, chairs, wardrobes, sofas, carpets, hangers with dresses and suits. She uses the minimum of these things turned into the simple frames to assemble ascetic room installations, so called «Schemes of space».
The technique found by Zholud is a culmination of artistic rationalism.
First of all it has roots in distinguished tradition. Since the time of Goethe and German romanticists outline drawing was considered to be the sign of refined taste. Even in conceptual art, there are cases when artists, e.g. Valerio Adami, returns to that tradition.
Secondly, it is a crafty plastic device which enables the artist to make three-dimensional drawings. Like a roentgenologist she examines ordinary objects with X-rays and reveals their existential emptiness. From this point of view Anya Zholud has a critical attitude to the society of consumption.
An extract of Review from a Newspaper «Коммерсант»
Museum of me
Anya Zholud - with her interest in simple objects («All around us is so complicated, that I long to do it easier and clearer»), her attentive gaze at them and attempts to grasp their conception («everybody can paint, my goal is to make the objects convincing, meaningful and to give them the artistic status») add to that her confident manner in working with brush and chisel based on the classical education - enchants spectator at once.
She analyses her creativity scrupulously («The colour for me is just a cover, while the object's shape is to be released from all external») and asks herself such questions as: «How to avoid labeling? How to stay apart from professonalization commercialization of contemporary art? And is it possible to be true to myself and not to become dull and monotonous?».
The artist faces not an easy choice:
All that proves that we deal with a big artist. What a wonderful beginning of such a young artist.
Museum of Me, Gallery ArtStrelka, Moscow, Russia
Born in Leningrad, USSR,
Anya Zholud's paintings, drawings, and installations portray everyday objects with what seems like minimal effort. Jugs, pots, and other household items are extracted from their context and monumentalized in her paintings, almost echoing the iconic worlds of figures like Mikhail Roginsky, who adopted similar strategies in Russia in the 1960s. Zholud is renowned for her series of metal structures. She uses fine metal wires to define the outlines of clothing and furniture, which she then assembles into complete interior furnishings, as in Ginecological Office (2008-2009). The objects in this work, a gynecological chair, a bidet, and an intravenous drip pole, act as the signs of semantic exercise. These apparently rationalist forms are emblematic of the affinity between spatial representation and sketch, a phenomenon that John Flaxman, primarily a sculptor, skillfully applied in his early-nineteenth-century illustrations for Homer's Odyssey. As she herself has noted, Zholud works with the substance of the object, placing this on the surfaces at the edges of the object. Communications (2009) follows the Arsenale's energy channels. The term communication in Russian is also used for the electrical wiring and gas- and water-pipe ducts in factories. At the entrance to the exhibition these ducts are made visible, before disappearing into the walls and reappearing at the end of the Arsenale. This creates, in effect, a schematic representation of the factory's functions in which the construction and esthetic elements are made indistinguishable.
Making Worlds Exhibition: 53rd International Art Exhibition: La Biennale di Venezia. 2009, p. 176 - 177
Things for Love
The artist assembles the installation of deserted items which have served their time. From these materials Anya Zholud constructs a new space including paintings as well. As a result the items rejected in ordinary life get second wind in the artistical environment. We can admit now that the artist's experiments in the field of contemporary art are quite successful. Working in the genre of installation Anya Zholud combines painting and sculpture. With the interest of a naturalist she studies the essence of different objects and ideas and finds the figurative equivalent to them. The installation Things for Love confirms it.
Things for Love, Moscow Museum of Modern Art, Moscow, Russia
Private Contemporary Art Museum Art4.ru, a comment from a web-site
During a year that Anya Zholud exhibits our site presents the second photoreport on her works. It means that she has a big future. She says "There are only 7 notes and a lot of colours, but they are already occupied". You can hardly create smth on your own - they will remind you of all the ancestors from Aivasovsky to Dubosarsky. Her decision to be easier is the only right way. It's as easy as a pie. She enlivens those things which we don't notice in our everyday life. There is just a parquet floor, just socks on the radiator, just enemas... It's so typical for a picturesque St. Petersburg style to create a little mess and antyglamour. Such kitchens are the coziest in the world and the most delicious tea is poured from such teapots. Especially if it is prepared by woman with love.
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