Monday, July 18, 2011

REVIEW: Eques Equitis - Hand Painted Ceramic by Konstantin Bessmertny (Macau)

MC Gallery (Macau), Saturday July17

With Macao-based Russian artist Konstantin Bessmertny, it was love at first sight. I was referring to his works when I saw them in Recent Works at the Macau Museum of Art back in 2007. Aside from his technical mastery, his expansive knowledge on broad topics like literature, history and politics; and a keen observation of social behavior and inter-relation render his works the kind of intelligence that both amuses and stimulates. Together with his unique way of using colors, the results was to be whimsi-satirical.

For his latest exhibition Eques Equitis: Hand-Painted Ceramics by Konstantin Bessmertny at MC Gallery, the main features are 16-inch hand-painted ceramic plates, while there are also a few ceramic sculptures. As the title suggested, the paintings are supposed to be about human and horse in broad terms, or in particular about horsemen. The curator failed to explain why Bessmertny choose to use ceramic plates for this theme, though it is not particularly unusual.

Bessmertny’s unique humor and insights about his chosen topic was very much present in this exhibition. My personal favorites in the exhibition have perhaps the least to do with the concept but more to do with the medium. E. Meets W. and W. Meets E. shows the requisition paradox of two dining experiences. For a Chinese, it is the knowledge of protocol, of which tool to use at different stages of a Western dinner, while for the Westerner, it is the skill of using the chopsticks. What I love about these two pieces are their clarity and unity of their message and medium. Even the amounts of paints on these plates are in agreement with the message.

E. Meets W.

W. Meets E.

Not as witty but equally exquisite are two plates showing Napoleon Bonaparte. Les Femmes de Napoleon (The Women of Napoleon) showing Napoleon and his 26 Marshals of the Empire; and Les Marechaux (The Marshals) showing Napoleon and his women. I also do like his Genghis Khan paintings. One shows a younger Khan, Temujin, riding and fighting away from his enemy (going left); and another one, Chengiz Khan, showing an older Khan looking solid, stern and returning toward right.

Les Femmes De Napoleon

Les Marechaux


Chengiz Khan

Going through Bessmertny’s works was amazing. While I personally would have sequenced the pieces and displayed a piece or two differently, overall, it was a fine display of Bessmertny’s genius.

Eques Equitis: Hand Painted Ceramic by Konstantin Bessmertny
May 13, 2011 - September 6, 2011
MC Gallery
Curated by Joey Ho

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