Foxy Production, New York, and Temnikova & Kasela, Tallinn, are very pleased to present “Being Daphne,” Olga Chernysheva’s latest solo exhibition in New York. The artist’s new series of drawings and paintings pictures people in decisive moments, negotiating a world in flux.

In Greek mythology, Daphne was transformed into a laurel tree to ward off the advances of Apollo. The title of the exhibition implicitly poses the artist, the viewer, and the works’ protagonists as Daphne, as the subjects of change.

Chernysheva presents what Anton Chekhov called “minute particulars,” those detailed observations that point to wider forces that buffer people in their everyday lives. This mode of depiction has been an ongoing strategy of Chernysheva’s work over the decades, where she charts the breakdown of a sense of collectivity. In this exhibition, her subjects can no longer contain their inner lives. They respond with an impulse to commune with nature, or to completely metamorphose.

In a series of large monochromatic drawings, stormy fireworks loom above small groups of people. Dark, explosive skies, overpower the witnesses beneath them, undermining any sense of celebration. Resembling a battlefield in the heavens, the artist’s scenes conjure a profound disjuncture between official intentions and people’s lived experience.

A number of drawings illustrate relations between people and trees: people hug trees or hang from their branches; some are in the throes of transforming into a tree; while others have already transitioned: human heads bloom on branches like supernatural flowers, or trees embody human shapes. From the humorous to the alarming, the works figure the tree as an active agent in dramas about humanity and nature.

Chernysheva’s series of paintings pose, in muted tones, the natural world as a character within the story of the city, not unlike the way that in some Greek myths the Gods intervene in the lives of mortals. The artist pictures an orb-like moon obscuring an apartment block; a couple are reflected upside-down in a puddle; another couple, in animal costumes, sit together outside in a snow storm. Each scene imbues a realist style with a magical sense of psychic possibility, alluding to the possibility of transcendence even in the bleakest of hours.

Besides Chernysheva’s paintings and drawings, the artist is well-known for her films and photographs that capture people negotiating social turbulence, where the sense of a common future has been fragmented. She has a vital interest in the pressures on people as they negotiate public space; the environments her subjects inhabit hold a dramatic psychological charge, vying with them for center stage.

Olga Chernysheva (Moscow, Russia, 1962) lives and works in Moscow. She studied film and animation at the Moscow Cinema Academy and fine art at the Rijksakademie, Amsterdam. Chernysheva has exhibited internationally over three decades. She is currently shortlisted for the Guerlain Drawing Prize, Paris, and participated in the Kathmandu Triennale 2077, 2022, in Nepal.

Other recent notable exhibitions include “Workers” at Tate Modern, London, and “GRIDS@RIPS,” a solo at the Foksal Gallery Foundation, Warsaw. She has presented "Chandeliers in the Forest,” a solo at Secession, Vienna; "Revolution Every Day” at the Smart Museum of Art, The University of Chicago; and “Vague Accent,” a solo at The Drawing Center in New York. Large survey exhibitions include Manifesta 11, Zurich, and "All the World’s Futures” at the Venice Biennale in 2015.

Chernysheva’s works are in many permanent collections, including the Museum of Modern Art, New York; Tate Modern, London; the State Russian Museum, Saint Petersburg; Fondazione Sandretto Re Rebaudengo, Turin; and the Nasher Museum of Art at Duke University, Durham.


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