Fool is Walking

06.04 – 19.05.2024
Ivan Simonov's new exhibition titled after a lyric by Yegor Letov continues his ongoing exploration of the phenomenon of the 'little person' in post-Soviet reality. The artist reflects on the resonance of the mood and atmosphere of Letov's band, Grazhdanskaya Oborona, whose songs from the 1980s have turned out to be fitting to the current context: 'How all of this has a nice quality of going on, disgustingly, in all conditions. And there is no end in sight.' (Yegor Letov).

Fool Is Walking examines the quest for a better life by people who were dealt a bad hand, highlighting their ultimate and understandable desire to improve their living conditions and financial well-being. The capitalist and state frameworks provide their own system of coordinates based on production, labour, and growing birth rates. But this approach only exacerbates the exploitative attitude towards individuals, reducing them to their economic functions, while materialistic pursuits fall short of fostering genuine self-fulfilment and happiness.

Cards become the connecting element across the exhibition. For centuries, card games have been popular among all social classes and groups, with cards serving as a medium for both gambling and fortune-telling. They have also played a significant role in the history of art, having been depicted by many artists. At the exhibition, the deck becomes the symbolic and stylistic focal point, inviting the viewer to play and read the cards daringly and with gusto.

The artist shortens the distance, and depressurises the experience, immersing the viewers in the world of the 'little person'. Through visuals and text, viewers confront the inner world of these figures, perhaps seeing reflections of themselves in the mirror. By breaking the fourth wall, Ivan Simonov hints that the 'fool' with his spiritual and existential quests, represents a universal lyrical hero, who could be any of us. And irony remains a tried and tested way of acting as a shield against the oppressive and hopeless atmosphere: 'Perhaps you could do this on your own, or perhaps with God's help.'

The exhibition encourages viewers not to seek straightforward interpretations but to engage with the art on a communicative level, inviting a deep dive into its symbolic richness. Simonov's work draws parallels between street art and conceptual traditions, prioritising intellectual and emotional engagement over mere representation.
Ivan Simonov
Ivan Simonov (b. 1991) works at the intersection of photography, collage and text. He initially started his artistic practice in the streets by playing with the context and juxtaposing reality and fiction. The main theme of his oeuvre is examination of the modern world and humankind through focusing on individual objects and characters encountered in everyday life.