DETOMON. Stories in pictures
«If I need to draw with a stick in the water during a project, then I will have to change my style and draw with the stick in the water», Vladimir Grig says. The artist made being culturally omnivorous his fundamental practice. He talks about issues that are relevant and essential for him in the language of media, cinema, art history, advertising posters and fashion. High and low, mass and elite – everything serves him as fertile materials. The involvement into the endless circulation of images is also the basis for the current Vladimir Grig’s project called «Detomon. Stories in Pictures».
The key to the new project was a historical curiosity. In the XVIII century, at the invitation of Prince Golitsyn, Jean-François Thomas de Thomon arrived in Russia. He was not only an outstanding architect and draftsman, but also a great mystifier and adventurer, who invented a good part of his biography. For example, to the common name of Thomas he without a twinge of conscience added the noble ending: de Thomon. However, the origin did not stop him from realizing many wonderful projects – the ensemble of the Spit (Strelka) of the Vasilievsky island, fountains along the road from St. Petersburg to Tsarskoye Selo, the project of the St. Petersburg Bolshoi Theater, which brought de Thomon the title of a court architect.
The Frenchman’s only weakness were spelling mistakes – it turned out that the illustrious architect, like Pushkin’s Tatiana, spoke with difficulty in his native language. It was as if to mock this shortcoming in 2009 in St. Petersburg, when opposite the Spasskaya metro station, a memorial sign was placed to praise the Architecture of St. Petersburg, on which de Thomon’s surname was engraved with an error – Detomon.
The poetics of such mistakes could not fail to attract the attention of Vladimir Grig. In the art world he creates, the life of any image can be viewed from the point of view of errors, inaccuracies, cultural layers, leading to such curiosities in which the past and future coexist in a symbiosis. The word «detomon» appearing in the name of the exhibition thus begins to function as a symbol of temporary and cultural paradoxes, opening up the possibility of a game.
The series «Stories in Pictures» has been complemented and developed by Grig over the years. In the new graphic series of the artist, characters from different times are the main ones. Among them there are little forest sprites and spirits who came from the book of the famous children’s writer of the beginning of the 20th century, Raisa Kudasheva, a cubic knight who could have become a friend to peasants and plowmen painted by Kazimir Malevich, a smile and a mushroom girl – an allusion to Sergey Kuryokhin’s television hoaxes and inventions. Each of them represents the culmination of a comic strip – the invasion of an element of one culture into another. The background for them are drawings on antique themes made by de Thomon.
The matrix of a comic book is very important for understanding the art of Vladimir Grig. It serves as a functional framework that can incorporate many of the components that make up the story. Narrativeness is laid at the level of form here – it’s not so important if Grig works in the realm and space of a dream, a fairy tale or a myth about a past epoch. In this sense, his graphic language is moving closer to the European modernist literature, which is based on a sense of instability of any previously stable position or state, postulate or status. In order to reflect this state of unsteadiness of the world, in which the meeting of one time and cultural layer with another one becomes possible, Grig resorts precisely to the genre of «stories in pictures».
Tatyana Sokhareva, art critic, journalist