Olga Chernysheva

Olga Chernysheva (born 1962): Russian Post-Conceptual artist. Graduated from the Sergei Gerasimov Institute of Cinematography in Moscow (1986) and held a residency at the Rijksakademie van beeldende kunsten in Amsterdam (1995–96). Contributed to exhibitions (from 1989), including the 49th Venice Biennale (2001). Lives and works in Moscow.
Born: 1962, Moscow

Olga Chernysheva was born in Moscow in the family of Yury Chernyshev (1962). She graduated from the Sergei Gerasimov Institute of Cinematography in Moscow (1986) and held a residency at the Rijksakademie van beeldende kunsten in Amsterdam (1995–96). Chernysheva has contributed to exhibitions (from 1989), including such one-woman shows as Black-and-White Book at the Gallery 1.0 in Moscow (1992), Anton Olschwang and Olga Chernysheva at the Museum of the Cinema in Moscow (1993), Pro portsii = Proportions at the Russian Museum in St Petersburg (1995) and Second Life in the Russian Pavilion at the 49th Venice Biennale (2001). She lives and works in Moscow.

Olga Chernysheva is a leading Post-Conceptual artist who investigates the surrounding reality in the passage of everyday life. Slightly detached, with a Buddhist-like serenity, she focuses on those realities that are closest of all to her female perception – relations between mother and daughter, questions of memory, metaphorical associations.

Olga Chernysheva does not attempt to analyse the socium. She prefers to record it, refraining from deep immersions or soul-searching. The artist designates reality, avoiding any overt pressure or stark evaluations. With gentle irony and unconcealed admiration, she transforms the everyday into the metaphorical. All this is captured on film, paper and canvas.

Olga Chernysheva established herself on the Moscow art scene with the Kitchen Plastics project (1991). Transferring illustrations from a Stalinist cookbook for Soviet housewives – the fantasy of a period of poverty and ruin – into plaster sculpture further increased the numbing effect of the representational style of Socialist Realism.

The Stalinist cookery book was also the source of inspiration for one of Chernysheva’s most striking series of paintings in the mid-1990s. The somewhat absurdist material undergoes a photographic magnification on the canvas, creating a metaphor for the appearance of new life. The hands kneading the dough are associated with the seven days of creation which led to life on earth.

In the following decade, Olga Chernysheva continued her social-ethnographic investigations into Russian life. Her most memorable project was Second Life (2001), which was shown at the Russian pavilion during the 49th Venice Biennale. With the help of an artificial “natural” context – plastic imitation trees – the artist proposed reviving the fur hats worn by most Russians. The Train video film (2003) is another capacious formula of the retrograde culture of a country whose population moves contrary to the onward march of history.

Despite the astonishing breadth of her many interests, Olga Chernysheva is always remarkably positive. The artist’s philosophical detachment, tendency to observe rather than analyse, and the gentle tones of her interpretations bring her oeuvre closer to the Western – or, to be more exact, the European – context of contemporary art, rather than the harsh, often dramatic and analytical practices of Moscow art.

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