Culture & Art

The Reality of Illution

Oleksandr was studying at the Ukrainian National Academy of Arts. However, the young artist was not satisfied by the classical, canonized knowledge, he was given there. He became an experimenter and was know for this until the last days of his life.Gnylytskiy was the most unpredictable artist at the Ukrainian art-space. His strategy was to reincarnate, transform, to mimic all the time. He was not afraid of impertinent challenges, which in the post-soviet conditions were considered madness. Not for nothing, Gnylytskiy was one of the first artists who started creating video-installations.

In the beginning of 90s, he filmed an action-poem “The Sleeping Beauty in a Coffin”. After that, artist started working with the media sphere. He and Lesya Zayets, his wife, created artistic duet and called it the Institute of the Unstable Thoughts. In its visual projects there was the original ideology of balance between real and artificial worlds.

“The Room” was one of the classic Institute’s media-installations. This work gives admirers the opportunity to ponder on the modern world as a Plato’s cave, described on a language of our generation. This is the perfect illustration of everyday life as a virtual shadow.

Gnylytskiy was creating unusual “dummy” sculptures - kinetic objects in the neo-dadaism style. “Babushka” crosses herself, miner hits the ground by his helmet, toyboy and toy-girl, facing each other, show their genitals - these are all examples of artist’s mechanical sculptures.

It seemed that Gnylytskiy was searching for something together with the spectator. He was asking questions, without answers, trying to achieve the truth with the help of different illusions and mystification.

Illusions, by the way, also took significant place in the Gnylytskiy’s works. What is more, the exposition on the Mystetskiy Arsenal is called “Reality of Illusion”. It seemed that illusions for the artist was a possibility to navigate in the darkness, groping invisible subjects and substances. He was playing with spectator, giving him hints, tips, and signs.

If the viewer looks at the binoculars, glass or mirror, he or she will see the alteration of the objects on the pictures. Heroes will merge one into another, but the general image will not look less real, it will become changeable.

Interestingly, doesn’t the same happen in our lives? How many things are really stable and do not transform after sudden look from the other perspective? Accidentally, Socrate’s phrase comes on my mind: “I know that I know nothing”.

Ksenia Gnylytskaya, modern artist and Oleksandr’s daughter, said in the interview that for her father it was crucial to stay funny and complicated. Fair enough, if we indulge ourselves in nostalgia for a little bit for old times’ sake, when the Soviet Union fell and there was nothing but shabby vestiges of totalitarian past and blurred rays of the independent future.

Feast in Time of Plague, aggressive and vivid efforts to protest, create, and exist. It was impossible to ask easy questions, when the social, economic, and cultural situations were complicated. It was impossible to stay too serious if you didn’t want to become mad. So “complicated and happy” is a great description not only for the Gnylytskiy’s art, but also for the Ukrainian cultural situation of those times.

“What is the name of this artist and why I’ve heard nothing about him?” - asked the director of the Marina Abramovic Institute, cultural institutions of the modern performance, at the opening of “Reality of Illusion”. Athanasios Argyropoulos appreciated Oleksandr’s work and was surprised by the unknown artist. Unfortunately that happens often, instead of telling about significant cultural activists of Ukraine that deserve to a place on the international art scene, the spotlight concentrates its attention on daily depressing and dark issues.

On the one hand, retrospective “Reality of Illusion” is a united exposition of all Gnylytskiy art periods. It is an evolution of the technique, art experiments, and thoughts. On the other hand, this exhibition is a priceless contribution into the history of Ukrainian art that demonstrates high cultural and spiritual development of our country.

About The Author

Author Photo

Tamara Kiptenko

Tamara Kiptenko is a student in Kyiv, the capital of Ukraine. Writing novels, traveling and reading are her biggest passions. She also loves modern art and that's what she usually writes about.