Exhibition "Zverev and Chirik" by Bogdan Mamonov,
Zverevsky Centre of Modern Art.

This exhibition is a part of some projects which include in the program ESCAPE. That projects are connected with an attempt of going over the history of art ( "The Dead & Alive", "Liza and the Dead"). If earlier art critics put famous artist in whose honor named Zverevsky center Anatoly Zverev in one line with Pollok or Van Gog that now Bogdan Mamonov tried to represent him as a one of the first russian performance artists. Anatoly Zverev established in the sixties a radical "invisible art" and using the phrase of Zverev where said: "Guy, Art - it is you, you are living - you are art". (This phrase has become motto for the work of the program).

In as much as Zverev is keen on football and even affirms that his painting appeared owing to this game, the opening day looked like a football match in the course of which Bogdan Mamonov was playing with enthusiasm with spectators.The second hero of the exhibition has become famous football player of the eiteenth Fedor Cherenkov (Chirick) and also Zverev marked off by the "sacred madness" of the genius.


Bogdan Mamonov's exhibition "Zverev and Chirik" that took place in Zverev Centre of Modern Art, surprises with virtuose freedom of artist who draws former cult but currently not interesting characters out of "history naphthaline and actualises them using the original plastic and conceptual approach. Sheets of paper, framed in red, with Zverev's sayings (for example, his famous "Guy, art is you, you are living - you are art"), photocopies of his graphics, fixed along the gallery walls, looked rather impressive and even stylish. The exhibition space was skilfully turned into soccer playing-field, where the author of the project dressed in a sports uniform was enthusiastically playing soccer with the visitors.

This exhibition is one of the projects carried out within the framework of the ESCAPE program and is an attempt of going over the history of art. ("The dead and Alive", "Liza and the Dead").

What is the cause of this maniacal desire to rewrite the past? Maybe it happens because the actual artist finds the legitimacy of his activity not in the works of masters of "brush and chisel", but in the crazy performances of the great eccentric names of history, whose actions entered the culture, but couldn't be marked and interpreted, remaining a sort of white spots.

We are living in a situation, where the former single cultural context has broken down and a new one is forming spontaneously. The basis of it is in the past for it is the only matter that bounds the fragments of the present that fall apart.

Bogdam Mamonov was always taking interest in the issues of power, which has its prerogative right for rewriting the history, for manipulating with the past. This was the subject of the "Kaligula" project, and it is also the main theme of the exhibition "Zverev and Chirik".

To persuade the visitors that the drunkard-artist was actually a radical leftist, a creator of Russian performance (even before "Collective Actions" group!), range him not with Pollok (what has already been done a number of times), but rather with the Vienna's actionists, using the whole stock-in-trade - from the visual presentation to a theoretical discourse, support his own position with a direct speech of the character (aphorisms), having broken nothing in it but at the same time having changed the emphasis - these are the tasks successfully met by Bogdan Mamonov.

It's important to keep in mind, that it's not the exhibition of Zverev or Chirik that is concerned: both of them are just the characters of B. Mamonov's creation, no more than mythical heroes. And in this case it doesn't matter if they lived ten or a thousand years ago, and whether Mr. Zverev's paintings owe their appearance to his devotion to football.

Another thing is more important: football as a branch of culture, according to Mr. Mamonov, provokes the world's crowd to a most drastic resistance to the civilisation, because no institution or idea gives birth to such strong, at once absolutely total and mindless violence, as football in the person of its fans.

A schizophrenic Fedor Cherenkov in the playing-field and a paranoiac Anatoly Zverev, seized with the delusion of persecution, jumping from one grandstand to another during the match - are the two poles, that are an ideal metaphor of today's cultural rebellion. The author of this project creates an image - the figure of the artist who has created the radical "invisible art" and has never been appreciated by critics or public.

The exhibition by Bogdan Mamonov was a success not only in the context of the ESCXAPE project, but the whole Moscow's artistic life. It produces an impression of spontaneity, facility of execution, entirety and the expressiveness of the single artistic gesture.

Elena Kovilina "Art Journal" #37-38, 2001

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