10 / 07 / 2015
Artist: Yana Smetanina
Yanka Smetanina's record boasts two solo exhibitions and around ten group shows. Without a doubt, she has her own unique creative language to which she is strictly bound. Whether they are paintings, objects or installations – almost all her works are accompanied by the artist’s text. Smetanina’s handwriting is recognisable to all lovers of contemporary art. All her projects are of a personal nature, and this show “Texts” is no exception. It has been in progress for almost four years, and the first part took place during the Fourth Moscow Biennale of Contemporary Art at The Centre of Creative Industries “Fabrika”.
For Smetanina, stones are mythical, spiritual elements that harness incredible power. She associates them with words but also imbues them with soul. She gives them names that are very simple, that seem like unique compositions as if from a dictionary: night, daughter, shadow, past, lie, truth – just words that in the artist’s opinion are similar to the stones. Every stone is individual, it might be heavy, weighty, light, porous, warm or cold, rough or smooth. You end up with a sort of stone symbolism. The association between stone and word is no coincidence for Smetanina. It is an investigation into emotional pain: words can hurt more than sticks and stones. On the other hand - words build books, stones build homes.
While working on this project the artist discovered that in a big city there are hardly any stones, apart from bits of road surface, but these are not the right stones, they lack soul and history.
In this exhibition, stones are used as words. The installation “Book” is comprised of a box with a crossbeam planks, behind the door stones are arranged on the shelves, thus mimicking a book cover opening to reveal words on a page. The exhibition also features paintings – a staple medium for the artist, with famous quotes on one side (for example - Ecclesiastes 3:5 “A time to cast away stones, and a time to gather stones together…”) and phrases made from stones tied to the canvas with twine on the other. A portrait gallery of stones makes up the graphic part of the exhibition.
«Silence is silver, word is gold»
No, words are not precious metals, nor are they ore. Words are stone. Weighty, heavy, dense, or light, porous. Warm, heated by the sun, coarse and irregular. Or cold, angular, multi-faceted, shining. One can throw words out, or write a book. One can build a house from stones, and one can smash a window through a wall in this house. To me, stones are words, words that fit into sentences – they are like living things. They are full of meaning and have their own image. It is no coincidence that whilst I was working on this installation I discovered that there is hardy any stone left in the city, just bits of road asphalt here and there, rubble and bricks. They are soulless and devoid of history.