Sputnik Gallery: Andrei Chezhin and Natalia ZarovnayaApril 17, 2012
It’s hard to believe that it’s been two years since the wonderful Andrei Chezhin last showed in New York. Chezhin took advantage of his last show to photograph a variety of places on and around the heart of New York City.
Amy Kousnetsova has been advocating for years on behalf of Russian photographers. She speaks eloquently of the difference between the Russian and American artistic differences in this art form. I have to admit that it’s sometimes hard to see her point but this show elaborates it perfectly while simultaneously showing that artists from St. Petersburg and Moscow also see things differently from each other.
Chezhin is the essential St. Petersburg photographer. Think of St. Petersburg as a quintessentially Western city in the essentially Byzantine Russia. Without implying that there is anything but the greatest artistry there, it is a decorated city with wonderfully playful architectural detailing. Wryness seems to be a characteristic of its photographers.
Chezhin understands that, in New York, you have to look up to see the most intriguing parts of the city’s architecture, the parts where we most show our similarity to his home. He understands that New York is a place of bustle, of play, of seriousness, of openness, of closed doors and, most of all, of movement – and he brings our world to us in a kaleidoscope of light and dark repetition making us look at places we know with new eyes. Most interestingly compared with his prior work, de does not tint these works. We are as we are – a city of contrasts.
Natalia Zarovnaya, on the other hand, sees New York from the eyes of Moscow. Her instinct is to look below the surface for the meanings that underlie the statements. She looks for the core to find the essence, not at the visible elements to find understanding. We have apparently done a good job proving that truth is not to be found on the surface as Zarovnaya’s photos of layered reflections show. She too has found the essence of New York and its “through the looking glass” quality.
Zarovnaya concentrated this body of work on the World Financial Center. She has layered reflections of carious buildings and different parts of those buildings upon each other. The result is alluring, enticing, mysterious – and unique and quite excellent.
Unfortunately, there is very little time left to see this show, as it is closing on April 21 along with Sputnik Gallery. We’re promised that Sputnik will reopen in the fall in another location; hopefully, this will be the case as the gallery is too good and their point of view is too important to lose. For the time remaining, Sputnik Gallery is at 347 W 27 St., 5 Fl.