Paintings and Sketches of Everyday Life: Inci Furni & Olga Chernysheva

Inci Furni; painting from the artist’s Fishing series (watercolor on paper). Art Basel HK 2018 (Öktem Aykut)

Both artists featured on this page—Turkish artist Inci Furni and Russian artist Olga Chenysheva work—in a wide range of different mediums, including film, installation, painting and drawing. and frequently experiment with different styles and techniques; however, the paintings and drawings on this page are simple sketehs and drawings based on the artists’ observations of daily life.

Inci Furni: Fishing

Inci Furni; painting from the artist’s Fishing series (watercolor on paper). Art Basel HK 2018 (Öktem Aykut)

In this series of watercolor paintings, Inci Furni is documenting a popular traditional pastime in Istanbul—fishing from the Galata Bridge, which spans the Golden Horn.

Due to globalization and modernization, Istanbul has changed a lot, so Inci Furni is interested in capturing elements of city life that represent tradition and community. Most of the paintings in the Fishing series were done on-site. To get a clearer picture of this popular pastime, you can see Görkem Keser’s wonderful photo-essay: maptia.com/gorkemkeser/stories/fishing-from-galata-bridge

Inci Furni; painting from the artist’s Fishing series (watercolor on paper). Art Basel HK 2018 (Öktem Aykut)
Inci Furni; painting from the artist’s Fishing series (watercolor on paper). Art Basel HK 2018 (Öktem Aykut)
Inci Furni; painting from the artist’s Fishing series (watercolor on paper). Art Basel HK 2018 (Öktem Aykut)

Mini-bio: Inci Furni was born in Bursa, Turkey and is now based in Istanbul. She studied painting at Mimar Sinan University of Fine Arts in Istanbul.

Olga Chernysheva: Graphic Performatives

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Good Morning by Olga Chernysheva from the Graphic Performatives series (2014-2015)

Here are two of the drawings in Olga Chernysheva’s Graphic Performatives series shown during the Venice Biennale 2015. Olga Chernysheva, who is based in Russia, works in wide range of media: film, photography, installation art, painting and drawing (Artist’s website: www.olgachernysheva.ru).

The charcoal-on-paper drawings and sketches in this series simply represent observations of everyday life. They are images of commuters, a pair of birds, a pile of chairs, a main standing beside a tree, visitors at an art museum, a dead wasp. Thus, the above photo of a ram-headed man casually strolling down the street with the early-morning sun casting an elongated shadow behind him likely represents nothing more than a man wearing a giant ram’s head and walking down the street.

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Couple by Olga Chernysheva, from the Graphic Performatives series (2014-2015)

You can view the entire exhibition here: Drawings from the Series Graphic Performatives.

In her realistic portraits, her subjects are simply ordinary people momentarily captured doing whatever it is they were doing at that time. It doesn’t matter whether they are rushing off to work, sitting by the seaside, standing around doing nothing or walking down the street wearing a ram’s head. They all have their stories, and their stories are treated with grace and respect…and sometimes with a bit of whimsy.

Mini-bio: Olga Chernysheva was born in Moscow in 1962. She studied at the Gerasimov Institute of Cinematography in Moscow and finished a residency at the Rijksakademie Van Beeldende Kunsten in Amsterdam.


Go Further

This section includes an art challenge and links to online photo galleries and websites.

Artist Websites

Galleries

Higher resolution images (e.g. 2048 x 1365) can be viewed online at:

Art Challenge

Go out and do a street sketch.


~by text and photos by longzijun

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Irina Nakhova: The Green Pavilion (Venice Biennale 2015)

Venice Biennale 2015 Russian Pavilion: The Green Pavilion (Installation Art by Irina Nakhova)
The Pilot; Artist: Irina Nakhova; Title: The Green Pavilion; Installation (The Russian Pavilion, Venice Biennale 2015) 

Irina Nakhova’s three-part installation The Green Pavilion, which represented Russia at the Venice Biennale (2015) is a thought-provoking, but disjointed look at our relationship with history and the future.

About the Installation

The first part of the installation, a giant head of a helmeted man whose features subtly change, is visually stunning, but it is not immediately clear how it is related to the installation as a whole. The artist explains her concept in the following video:

When you walk into the first room, all the sizes are different, and who greets you there is the pilot. The pilot is your navigator through time. So when you are here, there is dark. The skies are closed, but you are in the cockpit of the flight. When you come closer to the pilot, his eyes open, he looks at you and he also looks at the sky, and you can see that the sky are opening [via a skylight]. Then you really see what’s going on, but it’s also like in a dream because there is no verbal communication.

The second part of the installation occupies two rooms. In the lower room, images and videos from the old USSR are projected onto the walls. Blue ‘X’s and red circles start to appear on some of the people shown in the photographs; then the photos and videos fade and are replaced by new images. As the people in the photo are crossed out and their images fade, it seems like they are being ‘disappeared’ from history, a fate suffered by many victims of totalitarian regimes over the years.

Venice Biennale 2015 Russian Pavilion: The Green Pavilion (Installation Art by Irina Nakhova)
In the room of images; Artist: Irina Nakhova; Title: The Green Pavilion; Installation (The Russian Pavilion, Venice Biennale 2015). 
Venice Biennale 2015 Russian Pavilion: The Green Pavilion (Installation Art by Irina Nakhova)
In the room of images; Artist: Irina Nakhova; Title: The Green Pavilion; Installation (The Russian Pavilion, Venice Biennale 2015)

This visual representation of the practice of ‘disappearing’ people is a little obvious, but what makes the installation work is the way the viewers become part of the work. Above the room of disappearing photos is an empty grey room. In this observation room, visitors can look down through a transparent plastic window on the floor and see the people observing the fading photographs and videos.

Venice Biennale 2015 Russian Pavilion: The Green Pavilion (Installation Art by Irina Nakhova)
In the room above

Light pours down through a skylight in the ceiling, through the plastic panel on the floor and into the room below. If the people in that room look up, they will see they are being observed by the people in the room above.

Venice Biennale 2015 Russian Pavilion: The Green Pavilion (Installation Art by Irina Nakhova)
Visitors as observers in the room above

From time to time, the skylight closes and the room of images goes dark. When the skylight opens and the light returns, some of the people below will have moved on—they will have disappeared. Similarly, sometimes the observation room goes dark and when the light returns, some of the observers will have disappeared as well.

Living under an oppressive authoritarian regime, innocent bystanders can end up as observers—silent witnesses to the turmoil around them. This creates a horrible dilemma. By remaining silent and not doing anything, are these silent witnesses complicit in the horrors that are perpetrated? However, if the silent witnesses speak up or take action, won’t they become the next victims? In such a cruel environment, anyone can be ‘crossed out’ and made to disappear.

In the above video, when Irina Nakhova describes this second zone in the Green Pavilion, the artist does not mention the people being crossed out of the photos, but instead focuses on the effect when the room goes dark:

It’s the place where you can really come to yourself and see what’s going on around you with acute awareness. When it’s all dark, you have just the sky and the past. For me it’s soothing because it was before us, it will be after us and we are a part of the history, so there is no fear, there is no joy, but it is the nature taking over us and going through us.

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The third part of the installation is an empty room painted with an abstract green and red pattern. Describing this, the artist states:

It’s a foreboding dream; it’s a nightmare that should not happen. It’s a warning for (from?) me; it’s a foreboding dream of the apocalypses.

You can see see this room in the photos and videos in this article about Ukrainian activists staging a protest in the pavilion: Ukrainian Activists Occupy Russia’s Venice Biennale Pavilion (news.artnet.com/exhibitions/ukraine-on-vacation-russian-pavilion-venice-295947).

I am not sure how well the three part of the installation worked together. At the time, I thought they were three separate works by different artists. Based on the artist’s statements and my own interpretation, what I get out of the whole installation can be summed up as:

We exist as a part of history. We may be buffeted by forces beyond our control and our observable contributions may fade away. History is what it is and the future is uncertain and foreboding, but we were and we are a part of the whole story.


Go Further

This section includes discussion questions, an art challenge and links to online photo galleries and websites.

Online Galleries

Higher resolution images (e.g. 2048 x 1365) can be viewed online at:

Go Further

The Green Pavilion (a PDF booklet including preliminary designs and sketches, a statement by the artist and various essays on her work): www.artext.it/56-biennale/THE-GREEN-PAVILION.pdf

Three Questions

  1. What do think of the installation?
  2. Which part of the installation do you think works best?
  3. What suggestions would you have for tying all the parts together—the pilot, the room of pictures, the room above it and the red and green room?

Art Challenge

Create a floor plan for a multi-room installation about your visions of your country’s past, present and future.


~ text and photos by longzijun

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