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Alexander Zhyvotkov. VENGEANCE IS MINE
June 9, 2017 - July 31, 2017
Without looking any deeper, the eight new “Venus Figurines” by Alexander Zhyvotkov – part of the “…Vengeance is mine” series, might seem like a sequel to the 2015 “Motherboard” project: the same roughly carved female figurines, the crushing weight of charred wood, the archetypal original Mother Goddess in all of her existing incarnations, from Lilith to Virgin Mary. The universal all-encompassing symbolism and the artist’s original touch showcase Zhyvotkov’s work in all its glory, he is in his element, communicating with the eternal, the sacred, the sacrosanct.
Beginning in 2015 “…Vengeance is mine” continues the exploration of the “female motif”. However, the difference is in the detail, and these details are so startling and provocative within the context of Zhyvotkov’s work that they leave little doubt: this is the emasculating Mother Goddess of vengeance and retribution. There is no point in asking “why?” or “for what?” – we are in the sea of violence, and since Zhyvotkov has reached for his knife, he seeks to implement the verdict passed by supreme, divine justice.
This, coincidentally, corresponds exactly to the Old Testament quote “Vengeance is mine; I will repay”, – in the sense of, ‘resign yourselves to your fate and leave vengeance to God’. The recommendation is equally wise and equally impractical, demanding the very best of humanity. This is exactly what Zhyvotkov preaches. His ministry is made more visible in his work. Characters and quotes from sacred texts, hermit-like existence, detachment from the world, meditation, passion towards one’s work, and merciless self-discipline are typical of a medieval iconographer, or so it seems.
The one substantial difference lies in the fact that Zhyvotkov has no religious beliefs in the ordinary sense of the word. For this reason, his “icons” do not transform an exhibition space into a cathedral, or a viewer into a religious zealot. Exploring Zhyvotkov’s work, is like hitting your head on the floor. He does not promise eternal salvation, he is honest to himself, to his “parish” and to the artistic community, he reaffirms that being human is tough. Zhyvotkov seeks to reintroduce this truth into the lives of his fellow human beings, existing in the world of hustle and bustle, even if it results in emasculation.