PLAN B - New Paintings
110 New Bond Street W1S 1EB
The 21st century megalopolis New York is choked with cultural material. Anton Zolotov's work is shaped and informed by this world of commodity and material ownership. Having moved to Brooklyn from Moscow at the age of five, 28 year-old Zolotov has absorbed the semiotics of his surroundings and re-describes them in his painting.
The works in Zolotov’s first solo show Plan B are visual metaphors articulated through his pictorial language. The paintings are made up of composite forms, the compiled materials and objects Zolotov has gathered from the path of his life through the city. They are the little mementos that click together the puzzle pieces of his paintings and form the poetry of his art.
The most ominous work in the exhibition is Obtuse. It is a black painting with layered objects in a centrally gridded format. The oversize canvas is a pre-stretched ready-made from an art supply store that Zolotov says is “convenient and accessible to him.” It is five-sixths covered by four foam child play mats that lock together with jigsaw edges. Appliquéd on each mat is a plastic bag that has been cast in a windswept gesture and solidified with a coat of high gloss industrial paint, which leaks over and covers the entire assemblage. The slick of the augmented glaze recalls the heavy sheen of a Steven Parrino painting, like an amoeba of crude oil absorbing all materials it comes into contact with except the ‘wet paint’ sign floating brightly in the centre of the paining.
The old subway platforms of New York City are repainted numerous times in glossy bold opaque colours reflecting the traffic of passengers in transit. Over a hundred years of paint layers cover the columns, railings and gates of these stations and each fresh coat absorbs and encases the history of the hue before it. Zolotov’s paintings are similar, absorbing and encasing the history of the objects that they are made of.
Another of the larger paintings in the show is As Seen on TV. It is composed of rectangular forms adhered to a canvas submerged in a thick reflective coat of red paint. Zolotov alters the language of street signage he posts on the canvas by partially blocking out lettering with the red ground. A ‘no parking’ sign reads “NO KIN”; a 'beware of the dog' sign “WAR OF THE DOG”; a third 'posted no trespassing' sign reads “POSTED O TRESPASS.” There is a 'for sale' sign in the lower right corner of the painting that is blocked out all together with only its white window visible, meant for the seller’s phone number, which is left completely blank. In the centre of the painting, fixed on the surface of another small canvas, is a sheepish white cat apparently carved out of wood and surrounded by a cloud of white paint. Zolotov investigates the intention and indication of all these objects and constructs a new message out of their parts. A message that negates, flips, re-arranges and implies something completely new and unseen before, a sentence or story that has never been told.
“My paintings are like a Frankenstein, a freaky creature I’ve created out of scrap materials and forms.” The ephemera constructed into Zolotov’s paintings are the decaying body parts, limbs and discards that society is so quick to bury and forget, but he stitches them back together, hijacking their function in the social realm and shocking new life into their meaning. These are the metaphors Zolotov creates in his paintings, not only autobiographical stories about his journeys as an artist, but also of the environment that created them.
Text by Luke Brown