Retrospective exhibition Eight Stories.Valery Katsuba, BY
Valery Katsuba is a photographer, lives and works in Saint-Petersburg and Madrid. He was born in Siarhiejevičy village near Minsk. For the first time in his native country he will present the best works out of his eight projects (2000–2016), for which narrativeness is typical and therefore the works can be ‘read’ as stories. The exhibition will include works that were shown previously at the Сentre Georges Pompidou in Paris, at the Russian Museum in Saint Petersburg, in Círculo de Bellas Artes in Madrid and in the Multimedia Museum of Contemporary Art in Moscow.
Minsk audience will be able to see and appreciate the characters of Valery Katsuba’s stories – flying gymnasts of Moscow (“Air-flight”), dancers of the Mariinsky Theatre, wrestlers on the coast of the Caspian sea (“Physical Training”), students and their models from the Academy of Fine Arts in St. Petersburg (“100 Years Later”) and the photographer’s friends, awakened by the morning light in London, New York, Santiago de Chile (“Morning”) and, surely, in St. Petersburg. The St. Petersburg friends are photographed in the country picnics (“The Four Seasons. My Friends”). Among them are Vladislav Mamyshev-Monroe, Yuri Vinogradov, Bella Matveeva and Olga Tobreluts, Pauline and Marc de Mauny, Evgeny Sorokin. The exhibition will also include two “stories” told together with Vlad Monroe (“Any Passion Is Blind and Mad”, “Metamorphosis of the Monarch”), photos based on folk tales and a few photos taken in Belarus (“Away From Home”).
With great enthusiasm we present a retrospective exhibition of Valery Katsuba’s works – “Eight Stories”. This project is an attempt to connect the works in the gallery which have never been exhibited together before in one space. Eight stories are eight visual stories, written by the author using Hasselblad film camera and built in the individual narrativeness and in dialogue with each other.
Having started to work with a film camera as well as exploring photographic archives of the late 19th— 20th cc., Valery combines in his works not only a tradition of working with the classic analogue technology, but also the visual and literary traditions of Russia, Belarus, uniting them with the world traditions. Deeply inspired by the cultural heritage of Cervantes, Chekhov and Pushkin, Kupala, Marquez and Lorca, the author explores his feelings and attitudes through the image and the word.
As a true master, treating the tradition with respect, he freely borrows historical visual vocabulary, enriches it with modern visual effects and at the same time interprets them using his personal language. In the style of his works there are hints of time and age, but they are only hints – Valery looks for his own age of “the golden time of humanity and culture” – and we fall under his influence, become inspired by these searches and, surely, by his findings! As a true narrator, Valery shows the hasteless narrativeness of Russian poetry. His works reflect on the topics of urban and natural landscapes, and their characters, their relationship with the world, their internal relations with humanity and with each other. “I have always been interested in the relative permanence of landscapes, be they natural or architectural”, Valery says, “and in the historical eras, human fates and faces that pass through. I ask my characters to stop. And they stop in front of the camera as if in front of the infinity of time and space..”.
Characters of Valery’s all projects are neither models, nor performers. They are the people who play an important role of friends in Valery’s life.
Old and casual acquaintances, who enter Valery’s life for a long time, people, who are caught by the eye and the heart of Valery, those whom he “wants to tell us about and that is why takes photos of them”. These people can be called “the best representatives” — people “with beautiful hearts and with harmonious bodies”, captured in images they show us “greatness, beauty and fragility…”. The characters become actors in the process of photo-reconstruction where classical composition, narrativeness and the heart of the author flexibly combine.
His photographs are filled with a sense of balance and a strange harmony, which is achieved by film grain and grounds his works in reality, joining the surreal with the mundane. This creates the effect of narrativeness and even of the cinematical which reveal something new in familiar characters and places.
Russian culture is considered to be literary; a Western one is seen as visual. Valery combines both qualities: his photographic works are necessarily narrative. It does not means that there is an underlying storyline which the audience will read in the texts under the works – the pictures are so nuanced and full of allusions, attentive to details of life and human relations that they unwillingly give birth to a swarm of memories and associations in us, the audience, shaking our own fabric of life, reviving it by reminiscences and the thrill of the present.
Moscow — Minsk, 2016