THE POWER OF FRIENDSHIP
The VGLAZ Artist Collective came together in 2010 in every way due to the efforts of Gosha Ostretsov. Gosha, at his core, is an ebullient person – at the time he constantly surrounded himself with people, organised exhibitions, lectures, panel discussions, parties. If that had not been enough, he also selflessly helped other like-minded artists – guided not by friendship but by his personal tastes. For reasons best known to himself, he would decide that N was a good artist, and start to promote him by all means available. In this sense, Gosha is an absolutely unique figure in the arts community. Without a second thought about his own career, he expended considerable time and energy on other artists, putting together their exhibitions, introducing them to his gallerists. About that time he introduced us to art dealer Elvira Tarnogradskaya, whose partner Dima was in charge of an empty building on Lenivka. And it was that house that became home to our studio, alongside those of Gosha himself and his wife Liudmila Konstantinova, Georgy Litichevsky, and the Elikuka group. At first, there was nothing to glue us together apart from Gosha's personality. But gradually we befriended the Elikuka duo, started popping to Georgy's studio for tea, and began to intermingle more. Gosha continued to look after all of us. For example, he inexplicably detected a traditional artist in me and taught me to stretch canvases, paint with acrylics, and do colour blending – basically, all the skills a painter requires.
Around the same time, Gosha came up with the idea to start publishing a magazine together, and all sorts of related meetings and briefings commenced. Gosha already had a long history of publishing a magazine of his own – when I first met him in 1998 he was publishing the Russian Jungle art mag together with Petya Shirkovsky. And we were publishing a literary and art yearbook titled PG at the time, so the idea of an art magazine looked attractive. When deciding on its name, I think I suggested Vrylo but in the end the more accurate name got the go-ahead – Vglaz.
This is how the magazine came to be and our community was born, which later evolved into the eponymous creative association, which occasionally holds shows of its own.
I introduced Gosha to Dima Bulnygin, who also joined in the VGLAZ projects; Pakhomych, to whom I've always harboured a degree of tenderness and warmth; Ira Korina, a unique individual, universally loved for her personality and her art – I've never met a single person who didn't like her; other artists joined us. Gradually, we built up internal cross-communications. As PG Group, we have been collaborating with Bulnygin for a long time, and Pakhom illustrated my Book of the Living.
To be honest, all of this was quite unexpected for me. We live at a time of commercialisation of art, when artists have almost nothing in common. In the past, we participated in group exhibitions, where artists brought together by a single curator simply popped round, installed their works, said hello – and sometimes didn't even say hello, – glanced sideways at their neighbours' works, projecting indifference or undisguised hostility – and left. While here we foster warm communication and shared activities. It is quite possible that ours is the only case of such a large number of artists uniting driven by personal initiative and not under the wing of a curator in the contemporary art scene. True, the times of Dadaists, Futurists, Imagists and other conceptual associations are long gone, but suddenly a community of aesthetically diverse artists sprang up, connected not by a shared approach to art but by warm personal relationships. This is already no mean feat.
Ilya Falkovsky, PG Group