Robert Klanten interviewed by PAGE.
For Light and Memory
Gestalten is pleased to present For Light and Memory, a solo exhibition by the Ukrainian-Danish artist Sergei Sviatchenko, arguably one of the most influential innovators of modern collage. The exhibition includes work from Sviatchenko’s new eponymous series For Light and Memory as well as a range of artworks from his on-going project Less. The new works are based on the book Andrei Tarkovsky: A Collector of Dreams about the groundbreaking Soviet and Russian filmmaker by Layla Alexander-Garrett, who worked as Tarkovsky’s personal interpreter and assistant during his last film, The Sacrifice. These works, which consist of large-scale wallpaper prints as well as smaller originals, are neither a dialogue, nor a statement of ideas, but rather photographic collage poetry.
The works from Less, on the other hand, provide an opportunity for the public to become familiar with an exploratory, logical, and intuitive artistic process that incites reflection about popular culture and our modern vision of life. The objects, close-ups, portraits, animals, architectural dreams, and headless models featured in the work might seem absurd or surreal at first glance, but Sviatchenko’s recontextualisation of familiar everyday items turn his collages into sharply contoured, sculptural expressions. The precise and clean cut composition of color and shape suggests—in a poetic, consistent language—that the fragmentation of contemporary, nomadic, globalized life does not drain it of meaning.
These collages mirror the process of navigating through the rapid flow of visual impressions that the contemporary consumer is constantly confronted with. Rather than presenting a single path that leads to clear answers and a panoramic overview, the powerful images give spectators myriad ways to think about how meaning is attributed, exchanged, and constantly contested.
The featured paintings in For Light and Memory leave viewers in a state of satisfied confusion about real places or those known from memories. Although the artist’s intent and message might not be immediately clear or understandable, these images still deeply resonate with their viewers—like dreams.
In our world of sensory overload, Sergei Sviatchenko stands out as an artist with unique vision. This vision is also documented in Gestalten’s release Everything Goes Right & Left If You Want It, the first comprehensive collection of Sviatchenko’s collage and painting.
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Sergei Sviatchenko was born in Ukraine and now lives and works in Viborg, Denmark since 1990. He graduated from the Kharkov Academy of Art and Architecture as an artist and architect in 1975 and studied at the Kiev School of Architecture. Sviatchenko is a provocateur in the world of contemporary art whose collages and paintings have been exhibited in Denmark, Germany, Italy, France, England, Canada, and the USA.
Drawing on and harnessing all of the cultural tides he has experienced in 40 years of image-making, Sviatchenko’s oeuvre spans the known and the unimaginable. It cuts through the boundaries of traditional and contemporary visuals to merge pop culture with politics, personal memory with collective histories, and architecture and science with the logic of dreams.
Sviatchenko has worked with a broad range of subjects and media. He experiments, challenges, and abolishes where other artists move within established comfort zones. From his early work as a conceptual artist and collage maker, he moved on to abstract painting and has done commissions and large-scale murals for international brands and institutions. More recently, Sviatchenko has created the fashion-forward photography project Close Up and Private in which he has worked with brands such as Costume National. With a portfolio and methodology in perpetual evolution, his influences include modernism, surrealism, and rock music.
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