Attempt to Compensate

02.02 – 02.03.2020
Kirill Kto needs no introduction – an artist who became well known not because the art community began to notice street culture, but because of his unique artistic language, refined by many years of drawing in the streets. It is impossible to mistake him for anyone else.

His rhymed statements filled with self-reflection create a mass interest thanks to the medium where they are placed – the streets, and foremost to the message that speaks to any passerby. For Kirill, street art is communication and dialogue first and a state, tuning, modality, where the artist wants to exist. The audience is engaged in communication by a strong artistic form: that is how Kirill attracts the attention of the public. He is also trying to mask his persistent feeling of apathy and dissatisfaction with color and a vigorous contrasting form of expression.

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The dissonance between the form and substance of his works not only expresses the state of the artist at the moment of creating the work but also engages the audience (the owner of the piece) into an emotional relationship with the artist.

Cultivating this kind of an audience of spectators/empaths is what makes Kirill Kto's creative method unique. The clarity and the uniformity of Kirill's recent thoughts intentionally made on the artist's least favorite medium – the canvas (Kirill calls it bourgeois and prefers to work in the street or on paper), looks like another attempt to compensate but still goes beyond it. With each year the artist wants to work in the street less and less, which has to do with the immediate disappearance of any informal expression of urban culture in Moscow and the sterility of the urban environment.

Kirill's forced transition to the canvas and paper medium is expressed in short statements about the futility and lack of ideas about creating new formats of street culture. This situation drives the artist to make excuses about his own procrastination and also think about the cost and value of a piece of art. This entire spectre of emotions is conventionally shown on canvas – the plain melancholy messages, as usual, are also bright and colorful and look forward to meeting their empath.

Igor Ponosov

Kirill Kto is a cult figure in Moscow's street art subculture, and has contributed to it not only through his diverse artistic practice, but also as one of the few theorists and curators of street art. Lebedev was involved in street art as part of the Zachem? collective (2002-2009) and No Future Forever collective (2005-2009). He co-organised Pasha 183's posthumous solo show Our Work is a Feat! at Moscow Museum of Modern Art (2014); initiated and oversaw the first street art prize in Russia, Street Contribution (2013); and co-curated the Wall project at Winzavod Center for Contemporary Art (2010–2013). Lives and works in Moscow.