Nikolai Ishchuk was born in 1982 in Moscow and lives in London. His work moves beyond the indexical image and even beyond the photographic object as such toward an expanded and more abstract photographic thinking. His most recent body of work, Indeterminate Objects, includes sculptures made with photographs, overpainted photographic prints, and partially painted and folded structures. He treats the photograph’s surface not as an image-bearing substrate, but as a site where traces of various kinds of material activity are deposited and commingled. He is interested in what happens when prints are overwhelmed by this sedimentation, thereby becoming imageless, and in exploring the possibilities that this overflow/emptying dynamic offers. This is also a reminder of photography’s concrete materiality: an imageless surface is also what a C- type or silver gelatin print gradually returns to as it degrades over time.
In the sculptures, one can discern a vestigial, nearly archeological interest in Modernism, whereas in the overpainted prints, the focus shifts toward more gestural concerns. Here one photographic emulsion, cyanotype, is used to interfere with another, silver gelatin, in mark-making play. With the addition of paints and other materials, the print is taken to the breaking point where the boundaries between various types of marks—printed, sprayed, brushed on—are no longer certain.
In the second room of the gallery, a work from the artist’s earlier Big Bucks series will be on view. It is an image of one of the world’s most recognizable currencies, printed in analogue in the first instance and then manipulated. The materiality of a universally recognizable object and concept – money – is here abstracted to blur the lines between its imagery, function and signification. The image itself is derived from a real banknote, but alterations to color and size open up questions of the purpose, power and visual identity of the latter.
Nikolai Ishchuk received an MFA from the Chelsea College of Art and Design in London. He was the first non-documentary photographer to win the British Journal of Photography award. Ishchuk has exhibited internationally, including at such institutions as Whitechapel Gallery (London) and the Moscow Museum of Modern Art and is most recently showing his body of work “Offset” as part of the exhibition, ‘Family Politics’ at the Jerwood Space, London.
Please join us for a reception for the artist Nikolai Ishchuk.