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Art Exhibitions

In The Café of Dancing Lights

By 14/04/2022No Comments

Sergei Bondarev (b. 1980) is an artist and designer. Lives and works in St. Petersburg.

Graduated from one of the best art schools in Russia – the Ural State Academy of Architecture and Art (2004) with a degree in muralist; the previous university was the Yekaterinburg Art College. I.D. Shadr (born 1999), specialization – “graphic artist”.

Paintings, drawings and collages by Sergei Bondarev are in private collections in Russia, Europe and the USA. Personal exhibitions were held in Moscow, Yekaterinburg and St. Petersburg. Sergey Bondarev is an ideologist and co-founder of the KulturRRa Creative Union, known for its fashion and art projects.

Laureate of the “Artist of the Year 2015” award (“TOP 50. The most famous people of St. Petersburg”). Headliner of the Helsinki Fashion Week (2016). Creates art showcases for the new luxury Au Pont Rouge department store. Sergei Bondarev collaborates with the Mikhailovsky Theater (Mussorgsky Opera and Ballet Theatre, which is considered one of the best musical theaters in Russia. The theater was opened in 1833, located in a historic building in the center of St. Petersburg).

In his works, Sergei jokes about beauty, shows it inside out. For his works, he uses momentary, random things, and from them he makes works of art. This is not a “photo” of reality, it is an impression of this reality. Any moment of life can turn into something significant, even the most insignificant.

“I’m glad that this is read in my work, because the idea is this – to show beauty where, in theory, it should not be.”

The ugly word “anthropomorphic” describes the figures in a huge variety placed in the space of Sergey Bondarev’s paintings. People, or rather, characters, are the most frequent subjects in his work.

It is believed that the artist paints the same picture throughout his entire creative life. Rubens, Dali, Modigliani, Velazquez, Bacon and many others – no matter what plots or scenarios they write in their canvases, they almost always depicted their permanent muses: prostitutes, wives, girlfriends, sisters, lovers. But these were quite real people, although sometimes they walked on the verge between life and, for example, syphilis or consumption.

Bondarev’s characters are a whole universe of characters, forms, stories and allusions. Despite the complexity of Sergei’s technique, it is easy enough not to guess the “man” in a tangle of cultural intricacies, and pareidolia has nothing to do with it. Almost all of Bondarev’s paintings are about them: real, fictional or compiled from pieces.

Sergey Bondarev calls this figurative, so to speak, layer of his work Absolutely Scary Fabulous, but the fear here is not existential, as in similar multi-figured canvases by Otto Dix, but in the sense of “terribly beautiful”. But there is another aspect, in addition to admiration for eccentricity. Dix, using the examples of fun bohemia and beauties of the half world with distorted poses and faces, showed the vices of his time, Bondarev, on the other hand, shows the variety of types and characters that come into contact in big cities, where everyone wants to stand out, but this hodgepodge still merges into one, albeit multi-colored and bright, but still a lot.

Lady as a concept, ephemeral, a symbol for something quite concrete, but not material, are the frequent heroes of Bondarev’s works. Precious creatures that are indirectly related to our reality. Lady as an ideal, a playful thought that exists at the associative level, the embodiment of absolute femininity. In our imperfect world, they are represented by travesty, silent film actresses and singers with a special emotional load. Children’s cultural codes, which Sergey absorbed into himself, included precisely this kind of femininity. The theatrical environment, the “woman who sings” Alla Pugacheva, the Vladivostok saleswomen with their hypertrophied taste for beauty, the “queens” of the trance show made up in the head of the young artist a portrait of an unreal (in every sense) beauty, the dreams of poets and the muses of sophisticated admirers of Venus in furs.

“Male images are always more restrained and do not make me want to take up the brush. But there is no need to look for classical female beauty in my paintings or accuse me of misogyny. Everyone has the right to their own type of beauty, I just show what is beautiful for me without much conceptual meaning, without the desire to please, I try to do it for my own satisfaction. This is a passion that is difficult to keep in any frame,” says the artist.

“My art is anti-conceptual: when you look at it, you don’t need to think, you need to feel. Like any artist, I work on an instinctive level, releasing my thoughts without the slightest control, collecting instant impressions into collages, which I then turn into paintings. My art is an ironic story about modern society, its aspirations and images that dominate the minds of its members. This is a story about social consumption and globalization that encourages viewers to notice intimate places where things take on a life of their own against a backdrop of a chaotic world.”