Local Russian artist brings signature sculptures back to Macau

Sunday, October 26, 2008
Issue 508, Page 6
Word count: 931
Published in: Macau Daily Times

By Poyi (Natalie) Leung

Konstantin Bessmertny, a Russian artist who has been living in Macau for the past 15 years, said the city was “so much inspiring” for his production and also gave him a feeling of “being at home”.

Speaking to the Macau Daily Times at the gallery of St Paul’s Fine Art last week before the opening of his “Monumentum Pro” exhibition yesterday, Konstantin said he came to Macau in 1993 for a one-year work contract, and since then he kept renewing his permit to stay and three years ago he decided to make Macau his permanent home.

One of the reasons Konstantin said he likes Macau so much is its history and different social components that give him unlimited inspirations.

“I’ve so many ideas generated from Macau since I first came here,” he said.

“Even when I worked at different studios in somewhere else like in Russia or mainland China, inspirations still came from Macau,” he added.

Despite spending his childhood and early life and also pursuing his fine art education in Russia, Konstantin told the MDTimes he feels “more at home” every time when he comes to Macau.

“I blame myself for imperfect Chinese,” he said, adding “I’m trying to settle down to finish many projects and get to learn Cantonese.”

One of the big projects the Russian artist is working on at the moment is a life size sculptural horse that people can climb up on and pose as a “monument”.

Before the project is completed, Konstantin made a “mini scale” horse with three flies stuck on the top which is on display in his first commercial exhibition Monumentum Pro at St Paul’s Fine Art in Macau.

Monumentum Pro, meaning “monument for”, and curated by British Amelia Johnson who lives in Hong Kong, further develops themes from Konstantin’s Si Monumentum Requiris, Circumspice which was created for the Venice Biennale in 2007.

“When you do a monument or statue of somebody, I’m talking about European or Renaissance concept or even old Roman times, the persons must be very important or deserved to be remembered by the world,” the Russian artist said.

Thus, he said his idea of the life size horse is for giving ordinary people, whoever comes to the exhibition, a chance to become a monument by sitting on it.

On the other hand, The Accuser, a full sculptural piece showing a man in suit pointing out with his right index finger, is another highlight of Monumentum Pro.

“I really like The Accuser, it really speaks something out,” Konstantin said, adding “I don’t know the work, but I like the process of making it.

“I like the idea of somebody accusing something. It’s a concept of being superior or knowledgeable against somebody else,” the artist said.

“No one has the right to judge somebody else,” he added.

Konstantin referred to the bible story of Maria Magdalena who was accused of adultery and people were going to throw stones at her. “But Jesus said ‘let those who are sinless throw the first stones’,” he pointed out.

Prior to being shown in Macau, The Accuser made its first public appearance in May this year at the Hong Kong Art Fair, and afterwards had been on loan to private members’ club Kee Club in Hong Kong.

Meanwhile, Amelia Johnson, the curator of Monumentum Pro, told the MDTimes she recognised The Accuser as the “most interesting element” of the exhibition.

“It was the very first full fine sculptural piece that he worked on,” Amelia said.

“Anybody who’s so familiar with Konstantin’s works will be very pleasantly surprised about the 3D objects at the exhibition,” she added.

As an exhibition curator, Amelia said she has to put together ideas behind the exhibition and to create a “coherence” atmosphere.

With the exhibition space at St Paul’s Fine Art and only a few pieces are selected, each piece is given a lot of space for audience to stand back and enjoy from different angles, she said.

“The position of and the way you display each of the work at an exhibition is so important that if you get it right, it’ll be fantastic, and if you get it wrong, it’ll just look kind of okay or even just throw the whole exhibition out,” Amelia said.

“That’s the tick of a great exhibition,” she added.

In addition, Amelia told the MDTimes her other task is to make sure that the exhibition “comes together and will look professional”.

“People who don’t know about his work will find the exhibition interesting and informative by the way it’s presented, and for people who do know about his work will find something different,” she said.

When curating an exhibition, Amelia said it’s also important to provide a “clear statement” of what the exhibition is about and what is aiming to present to the audience.

“Another thing is to have knowledgeable stuff so that when people ask you questions you’re able to answer in confidence with a knowledge base,” she added.

Monumentum Pro, which will last until November 23, also exhibits two large paintings, which are black and white acrylic “8.5 Remake” and coloured oil “The Good Father” dedicated to respectively Federico Fellini and Francis Ford Coppola.

A video is on display as well and was produced in 2007 showing the aeroplane made out of recycled items being transported from Konstantin’s home in Coloane to around the local casinos and finally shipped off to Venice for the exhibition Si Monumentum Requiris, Circumspice.

Prior to Macau, Konstantin and Amelia had been in partnership for other exhibitions including in London, the US, Shanghai and Beijing.

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