The artwork of Alexei Kostroma (*1962 in Kostroma, Russia) is based on his philosophy of complex systems and an organic worldview in which time, logic and coincidence are the supporting pillars. From this, he has developed his own colour scheme, assigning the numbers One to Nine to the colours of the spectrum. He transposes this colour system to his art, in which he uses natural materials such as eggshells, feathers, pure lemon-yellow pigment and his own tempera paints.
In the exhibition Time of Piggy, Kostroma creates various approaches and references to the global concepts of time and money, as well as to their repercussions on the individual. Ironically, critically and philosophically, he analyses analogies of cycles as they appear in nature, human activities and social structures.
Eggshells and Feathers
Systematically organised objects made of precisely arranged eggshells initially convey a sophisticated aesthetic. Yet the eggshells are coded with the numbers One to Nine, using invisible ink that is imperceptible in natural light. It is only black light that reveals these codes – and, with them, like DNA, the distinctiveness of the individual in the uniformised masses. A reference to personal experiences in collective communist systems?
White feathers and sketch-like annotations reinforce the individualisation of the eggshell objects. These pieces appear to be a personal taking of inventory, a diary.
Yellow Lemon Pigment
Yellow lemon pigment – thickly applied, hardened and cracked – shows the threat of dissolution through excess. In the piece LUXURY, the word itself has been scratched into the pigment – aesthetically beautiful and verging on seductive. Yet, in the light of night (in black light), LUXURY grins at us almost apocalyptically. The light and shadow sides of life…
The cycle of individual artistic creation demonstrates art’s intrinsic ambivalence as a cultural asset on the one hand and a commercial product on the other.
Figurative Numerical Painting
Alexei Kostroma’s number paintings constitute a circular argument. He takes insects that we barely notice as microorganisms and places enormous versions of them on the wall. The aesthetics of brightly shimmering colours in beetles and butterflies serves to facilitate communication between the insects. Kostroma transposes this magnetism to his own numerical language and painting, attempting to decipher it. What from a distance appears to be velvety surfaces is in reality a thoroughly structured, complex system.
Bills and Debts
Numbers and sums are recurring motifs in Alexei Kostroma’s art, with which he examines his relationship to the prevailing financial cycle. Invoice amounts form thick, threatening cords of colour. Excess or meagre limit – the sums inevitably lead to the question of what is left in the Piggybank to pay for life in the coming month.
In his large-format paintings, long columns of numbers compete with energetically charged colour sequences on geometric structures. Here, emotions and facts, individual concerns and universal systems stand in contrast to one another even as they come together to form a single entity. Depending on the light, the content of the paintings changes – at night, the artist’s daily work provokes nightmarish memories of unpaid bills and debts.
“No money – no art – no development” Kostroma concludes.
Concept: Ekatarina Kondranina. - The Exhibition will be acompanied by a catalogue. Texts and Design: Constanze Musterer, Rostislav Komitov and 401contemporary.
Save the Date:
INTERMEZZO IX - Artist Talk: Britta Kaiser-Schuster/ Alexei Kostroma
9 June 2016, 7 p.m.
Alexei Kostroma (*1962 in Kostroma, Russia) has participated in numerous solo and group shows in various European countries and the USA, including institutions like the Ludwig Museum in the State Russian Museum (St. Petersburg), the Staatliche Kunsthalle Baden-Baden (Germany, 2004), the Bass Museum of Art (Miami Beach, USA 2008), the Saatchi Gallery (London 2011), the Garage Museum of Contemporary Art (Moscow 2011). He has won numerous awards, among them the 2011 Kandinsky Prize in Moscow. His work is represented in prestigious national collections, such as the State Hermitage (Saint Petersburg) and the Stedelijk Museum (Amsterdam).
The artist lives and works in Berlin. - TIME OF PIGGY is Alexei Kostroma’s first solo exhibition at 401contemporary, Berlin.