“In Album”
Excerpts from essay by Ilya Kutik (translated by Andrew Wachtel)  

…The Depiction of the Absent as a Catalogue
Let us turn to some other paintings by Igor & Marina in which the so-called absent is not merely a sign of its actual presence, but in which it becomes a kind of apophatic catalogue.

The catalogue is one of the central epic devices in art (especially in literature); it should be sufficient to recall the famous “list of ships” in Homer’s Iliad, in which the author tots up (and describes) each one of the thousand or so Achaean ships, that set off to win back Helen and conquer Troy.

…In the painting Sofa (2012) we can see an example of Igor & Marina’s apophatic catalogue, but one of a completely new type. To start, let us note that the painting consists of three connected canvases; that is, it uses the artists’ favored artistic format: the triptych.

…Sofa shows us on its left and right sides (we will call them that), a naked girl sitting on a sofa. And, as is to be expected in a mirror reflection, on the left side she is leaning a bit to her right, while on the right side she leans a bit to the left, which allows us to recognize that we have here not only a painting but a variant of a tri-fold mirror. In the middle of the painting, however, the reflection of the girl is … absent, and in its place is an entire “catalogue of ships” (to use the Homeric term), a painted catalogue of various sofas, couches, love seats, and even a full-fledged chaise longue á la Ingres.

…The apophatic catalogue also lies at the basis of the painting Hold Tight & Carry On (2012). This is not a three-part canvas, but it is still a triptych of a certain kind. The painting is divided into three uneven horizontal pieces (panels). We first pay attention to the middle, narrowest one, because it demands our attention . As opposed to the top and bottom panels, which are divided into neat squares with an image in each one, the central section is bright red, like a red traffic light, which grabs our attention. And furthermore, this red stripe is a kind of iconic frame on which, as in the conventional cut out pieces or «windows» on an icon, we can see a women's hands. And these hands are «speaking,» in the sense that they have been captured at a moment of heightened gesticulation against the red background.

…We turn now to the painting Shoes, Legs...What Else (2012). At first glance, it is organized according to the same logic as the previously discussed painting: here we see expressive female legs, there we found expressive female hands; here, we see various women's shoes (sandals, short boots, and so forth), while there we saw various women's purses (clutchs, pouch purses, handbags, and so forth).

…The painting consists of two horizontal sections: in the one on top there are five pairs of naked and unshod women's feet; in the lower, incomparably broader part of the canvas, occupying almost two thirds of the whole, there is a broad narrative catalogue of incredible female footware from all epochs and of varied design, as if thought up precisely for the Shoe Museum in Toronto (the only one of its kind in the world, by the way).

…It becomes clear that the most important thing in the painting is not simply the dramaturgy, but the unusual approach of the director-metteur-en-scéne. And as a result, the rich shoe museum window, which takes up by far the largest amount of space in the picture, is not asking, for what are those women's feet pining (the answer is, «shoes, of course») but they are crying out about the nakedness of their feelings, about their bared souls (let us say). The entire relative nakedness of these legs (only from below the knee to the heel) grabs the viewer precisely because of their whiteness and defenselessness: they simply evoke a desire to cover them—that is, to defend them, put something on them, put them on heels, raise them up…

Igor & Marina
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