The project ” TOYS. Perfect World”
Sculpture by Olga Muravina has the rare quality of being a joy in everyday life and not just in the gallery or museum.
It is living art, which you want to keep near you as a necessary beautiful thing. Her sculpture appeals to the underlying emotions of play, security, and tactile communication with the world, while building an aesthetic distance to these essentially unreflexive and childish energies that nourish her work. Olga Muravina has a masterly command of form and endows it with a most delicate brutality, perhaps to neutralize the pathos that accompanies maestria and the medium of mastery itself – stone and bronze. Next to these materials of eternity, Shakespeare’s reminder that we are made of the same substance as dreams seems not so much poetry as the bare fact of reality. Olga Muravina refracts the awe of dreaming into the materials of eternity and creates a sculpture out of them as a stunning fact of our poetic existence
А. Evangeli / Curator, art critic and contemporary art theoretician
The project “TOYS. Perfect World” by Moscow sculptor Olga Muravina at Gallery 11.12 strikes the imagination with bright colors and incredible shapes. Art historian Evgenia Chervetti discussed ideas and objects, ideal worlds and real fantasies with Olga Muravina.
E.C.: The exhibition takes place in Gallery 11.12 on two floors. Both floors are occupied by the same theme?
O.M.: Yes, it is the same theme. I had both smooth and textured objects, but I realized that they should not be combined.
E.C.: Why did color come up, before you did only monochrome works?
O.M.: This project just appeared to me in color, glossy, mirrored. Everything in my life has always been more monochrome, but I wanted color. Usually, if an idea keeps you going for a long time, you start drawing the same thing everywhere, a thousand times, and you realize that you can’t not do it. Then maybe it will be monochrome again.
E.C.: So there are both colored objects and monochrome ones in your game world?
O.M.: There is no monochrome sculpture in this project. I wanted volumetric soap bubbles, reflectivity, childhood. There are other pieces that are more textured, “shabby”, and also colored, with some remnants of old paint. But this is another, more ragged world, in this case, it is not at the exhibition.
E.C.: It took you a long time to collect the project and find a name?
O.M.: The working title was “The Ideal World”. Then we decided on “TOYS. Perfect World”. This is the story of a child, when he has not yet self-identified. And he came into such a joyful, colorful world. The idea of this world came to me after the birth of my second child and then never let go. I was comfortable in this infantile environment – at first I sketched it endlessly, and then I understood how to technically implement it, to make everything, to chrome it.
E.C.: And how was the material chosen? Is it fiberglass?
O.M.: Almost, it’s a composite material: fiberglass, which is used to make boats, as well as thermoformed sheet plastic, silvering and colored varnish. The material doesn’t matter much, it can be different.
E.C.: Does your sculpture have to be tactile?
O.M.: Yes, absolutely. They are not supposed to touch, but I wanted them to be something that I could touch and hold. So that there was a feeling of a world where you feel good and have fun.
H.C.: Is it possible to talk about a prototype? Is it in the imaginary or in reality?
O.M.: The idea of some kind of ideal duck has emerged, and it has to be, for some reason, just like that. Of course, I can mold any object, like a realistic nude, but here I wanted to make something very simple in form.
E.C.: So it’s a game on its own sake, a closed world beyond reality?
O.M.: Yes, it’s a kind of escape from reality, creating my own comfortable environment. I have a lot of ideal worlds, like white and translucent, with transparent animals walking around. But this one also seems perfect to me – perfect toys, painted in perfect colors.
E.C.: You can imagine the ideal children’s world as an ideal childhood, or as a world created by a child, which is in every person. Which one is closer to you?
O.M.: Rather, the second one is the child who lives in all of us. That’s for sure, because I work with it quite sincerely and with pleasure. This topic is actually much broader than that.
E.C.: When you work on a sculpture, is it only the child that speaks in you? Are you alone in this game world?
O.M.: Probably not, I am not alone there, but when I start to analyze it, it disturbs me terribly, I cannot finish the project. This adult in me starts to talk – does anyone need this? Why am I doing this? Will they understand – won’t they?
E.C.: Will this world fit anyone, will a person be able to exist in it all the time?
O.M.: I don’t know if it will coincide with their world, with their child. But it makes me happy when I imagine bringing it all into the bedroom and setting it up. Any of my characters, I think, everyone really needs it. But I can only assume.
E.C.: How does this world relate to reality?
O.M.: When I invented this world, it was much larger, and the toys were three meters long. Then I optimized them. I specifically chose the sizes to put them in the gallery, so that they would be perceived as large enough in the interior spaces.
E.C.: How did you imagine the exhibition before it was assembled?
O.M.: I saw on the walls the storyboards of my drawings with the same sculptures, videos where they slowly rotated, photos of all the characters, bright and filled with a thick, glossy layer of varnish or resin. And the toys themselves, of course.
E.C.: Are these memories of the images of the Soviet past?
O.M.: They have become modern, glamorized by the present, chromed, colored, and festive. I wanted to blow this world through a tube – in a moment appears beauty! But yes, they came out of my memory. I have a bit of nostalgia; I’m close to Soviet cartoons, for example. In my childhood there was a doll – a very outdated, simple shape. The seams were visible. Such a square doll with glass eyes, in a blue dress. But with time it was forgotten, transformed, and a new image emerged.
E.C.: Is the plasticity of your objects still Soviet?
O.M.: I’m absolutely not satisfied with these plastics. I developed my own plasticity for each character. I wanted simplicity, conventionality. The main thing was to catch the mass, and then the shape would be found. I also chose a certain color: the teddy bear should be blue, or the hare should be crimson or lilac. I create worlds – I am the creator of my space. Until I create this world, it won’t let me go. This one tormented me for three years.
E.C.: Do other sculptors who create their own worlds have motifs close to you? For example, Niki de Saint Phalle, who made large, multi-coloured dolls, but it was more for adults. Or the fountain at the Pompidou Centre in Paris?
O.M.: No, neither color nor form is close to me. Unlike Niki, I don’t want to color a sculpture in particular, the main thing with me is the form, while with Niki, if you take away the color, the form doesn’t have that much meaning… I like something with Murakami and something with Miro, but if I found a world with any of the artists that I was completely satisfied with, I wouldn’t make mine.
E.C.: So you can’t play in someone else’s world?
O.M.: Maybe I can, but I won’t relax.
E.C.: And the audience will be able to relax with your toys?
O.M. : I often see that the audience likes my world, but that’s later, the most important thing because the process of creation.
E.C.: How do you think the viewer imagines this space of play created by your sculpture?
O.M.: It’s probably just a gigantic landscape, flat and soft, but there’s no special entourage.
E.C.: What other than color has changed in your objects compared to what you were doing before?
O.M.: Before, they were more humanized and zoomorphic. They were silent in a single tone. These are the real children’s world, simpler, more festive, more joyfully animated. It’s like when you hold a thing in your hand for a long time, it becomes animate, how much love you put into it, how much it gives back to everyone who interacts with it.