Agey Tomesh Group f. 1992
Founded 10 years ago in Moscow by a group of 5 contemporary artists, the Agey Tomesh group has exhibited in Art Manege International Art Fair, and continues to hold regular solo exhibitions at their Gallery 259 in Moscow. The name "Agey Tomesh" gathers the initials of the artists collaborating in the group, preserving their anonymity as individuals, akin to artists of the Middle Ages. Their work is collective and versatile, simultaneously exercising the genres of painting, sculpture and photography. The project exhibited here is entitled with misleading simplicity "Walls and Ceilings". It deals with the authoritative power of the European cultural past compared with the present day reality in Russia. The frescoes appear as aged and decayed as the buildings themselves which are dilapidated, abandoned and imbued with historical atmosphere. However, the painstaking fresco technique is replaced by digital printing technology and the site is 21st century Moscow. Scenes from Western European iconography are deliberately chosen for their 'new' destination. The building exteriors, for example, embellish ironically chosen details from Ambrogio Lorenzetti's Allegory of Good Government: Effects of Good Government in the City and the Country, in the Palazzo Pubblico, Sienna (1338-1339) -the famous panoramic fresco detailing the Siennese Republic's ambitions and prosperity. So perfect is the mingling of the Siennese painting into the setting that the photographer has to denounce its real place in time and importance -"Fire exit" reads clearly the Russian billboard in the foreground. In "A Little Yard in Moscow" gigantic angels, enlarged from a detail of Annibale Carracci's fresco Diana and Endymion , Palazzo Farnese (1603) which is housed within a luxurious private villa commissioned by the Pope, are transplanted among austere desolate buildings. They appear to be keeping silent about their presence in their mythological environment. The indoor paintings reconstruct those of Pompeii's famous villas, Villa of the Mysteries (in the etymological sense of religious initiation, which was its destination) and Villa Vetii, both from the 1st century C.E. They appear as unwanted as Renaissance putt/ from illusionist angles, interrupted by installation pipes and above all the battle scene on the toilet wall in "WC".
The disjointed polar connotations of "now" and "then" dwell together in the coherent space of the photograph, expressing estrangement and bitter irony.