09.06 – 04.07.2022
Curator – Sergey Khachaturov
The Syntax Gallery show's programme offers a comprehensive view of line art, a tradition that is little reflected upon but very clearly articulated in the history of art nonetheless. Line drawing first emerged in the late 18th century and flourished amid the Empire style of the Napoleonic era. It made a powerful comeback in magazine graphics and posters of the 1910s and 1920s as well as in the Art Deco era drawings (Picasso, Léger, Eisenstein). These days, line art is often part and parcel of the 'aggregator' style art, web design vector graphics, and the savage aesthetics of tattoo parlours.

The programme incorporates the imagery created by Old Masters, including John Flaxman and Charles Norman, as well as artists of the Russian Empire era, and the Fyodor Tolstoy and Fyodor Bruni sets. Their incorporeal creations see the classical, academic world of art reshape itself into a circle dance of transparent spirits. The stained glass perspective and the pattern of arabesque lines become a premonition of the new reality asserted by the punky web design and vector graphics.

Young masters of the new generation open up an unusual conversation with the echoing and ringing emptiness of the Empire style line art, this first threshold of the newfangled virtuality. It is analytic geometry that seems to balance the cascade of virtuoso world-of-art lines in Slava Nesterov's mythological compositions.

For his cryptograms, Pavel Polshchikov employs the techniques of automatic writing and the syntax of technical documentation that stem from the network art vector and the printing culture of the Moscow conceptualism 'document flow'.

Danil Vasiliev spins and weaves a graphic web that translates expressionist-like sketches into moving West-Eastern animation series.

Vlad Maltsev draws on the experience of contemporary tattoo culture. His works on paper would fit in with the brutal Ignorant Style trend. The roots of this satirical overturning of the world via linear drawing can be traced to the early 20th-century magazine graphics (e.g., in Olaf Gulbranson's drawings for Simplicissimus that inspired Sergei Eisenstein's 1930s radical graphic pantomimes, which were performed by one mathematical line, as he described it).

At last, Vladimir Kartashov directly juxtaposes the graphic culture of masquerade and holiday imagery with edgy computer graphics. In his works on paper, the negative spaces and vector graphics outlines turn into poignant evidence of the melancholy feel of web punk. And the new linear style preserves this intimate cyber memory as carefully as the landscape drawings of romanticism, or Adobe Illustrator.

Sergey Khachaturov, Curator