Yevgeny Korshunov “Khaltura”

Yevgeny Korshunov 'Haltura'
Yevgeny Korshunov 'Haltura'
Yevgeny Korshunov 'Haltura'

The artist not signed with any gallery, the artist whose artworks are not being sold at auctions, has to take various gigs, or paid freelance assignments (let us insist on this term and avoid using the term ‘commissioned work’), from time to time, to make a living. But since “the customer’s always right”, art gig turns out to be a never-ending saga featuring all kinds of compromises, corrections-making, reconciliation and re-reconciliation of the visual decisions, among other unpleasant things. The resulting alienation of the artist in relation to a gig artwork is quite natural. Artist hating his gig art, not willing to even mention it in conversations and especially to display it somewhere - is considered to be a commonplace.

But not for Yevgeny Korshunov, for whom such a silence represents a problem. Putting a painting executed as a gig on public display essentially means to violate the unspoken artists’ taboos, which is a very risky move in itself, but for Korshunov to make such a move doesn’t seem to be enough. If the only message he wanted to convey was about his gig paintings, then at the very best the project could have been regarded as a provocative commentary to the recent exhibition “Art / Work” at Kyiv Arsenal or to an earlier "Labor Exhibition” show. However, what we’re looking at here is a lot more than Korshunov's incidental freelance activity fruit.

Behold the still life that underwent a series of ‘improvements’ by the customer after the artwork has been finished. Is this case relevant for the censorship discourse? Censorship at Ukrainian art institutions is widely discussed for quite some time already. Let us recall, for instance, what happened at the Pavlo Tychyna Museum during the “Kiev International”, or an earlier pogrom at the Visual Culture Research Center. But ironically, when a high profile cultural institution censors the work of an acclaimed artist, this bothers all those marginal artists legions no more than the latest Sotheby’s evening auction results bother the Andrejevsky Descent kitsch-sellers. Korshunov, however, seems to re-route the censorship debate into a vernacular plane, drawing attention to low profile censorship, often excluded from public discourse completely.