TOTART: Natalia Abalakova & Anatoly Zhigalov


Several key themes (Trace, Text, Hands and Grids) are essential in the creative work of Natalia Abalakova and Anatoly Zhigalov, who have been more than 30 years realizing their common project  "Explorations into the Essence of Art as applied  to Life and to Art" (TOTART) - critics of art by means of art itself. Given multimedia project is a many-dimensional installation space; its constructive elements are paintings, objects, projective graphics, video performances and photographs.

The Grid is enigmatic structure, one of the most ancient formula of techne, - complex and elusive by itself, which is hardly yield to any plain definition, as if  "separating us lattice rods", rephrasing Paul Celan's figurative words, separate us, lost in the labyrinth  of "a language grid", from those, whom we want to speak of this to.

What is it? May be, this is the earth itself, seen from a bird's-eye view (or perhaps now from a sputnik or even from a spaceship) as a cultivated and divided into equal parts extension? In Chinese hieroglyph - sign-ideogram - of "field" is a square, divided into equal parts by human beings with either borders or floats.

However, in many traditions a grid, a net, certain structure was a sign of the sky - not of the earth or the matters. No less mystic, modern "double" of the Grid - WWW-worldwide web, a global telecommunication network (who knows isn't it a celestial correspondence to human own GRID? ), a human HANDWORK, presents itself as a sort of model, certain resemblance to Life that is to say human body and spirit, no matter how blasphemous this thought might have seemed. This invisible, yet incontestably existing network is, in some sense, a work of art, where natural and cultural unite, making certain nomadic centaur, which acts now as a symbol, then as a myth.

In this installation the artists try to overcome the contradictions and ambivalence of the given cultural model: the chosen Chinese sign-ideogram (a field, a structure, a Grid, a network), on the one hand, pretends to infinity which pours forth, collapses, spreads out, while the HANDS literally hold it in and give it centripetal motion, creating  "a new design" and transmit this spread and decipher it by means of analytical language, by transmuting the problem into a new level: to which extent art as such is a component part of public communication?

And last but not least, within the framework of a single artistic project there is an attempt to kill two birds with one stone that is to find such a position or a model, where an aesthetic paradigm of construction and a structure of the myth correlate, and this is but an attempt  to touch by means of selected images with divers aspects of reality, up to the highest degree, when this reality becomes an abstraction, having created, thereby, a new paradigm  of "a language grid", where or - better - through where a spectator wanders as in the labyrinth, reaching (or failing to reach) the heart of peace.  

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