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Sergei Isupov: He + She

Barry Friedman Ltd.
515 West 26th Street, 212-239-8600
November 12, 2010 - January 22, 2011
Reception: Friday, November 12, 6 - 8 PM
Web Site

Barry Friedman Ltd., in collaboration with Ferrin Gallery, is pleased to present a solo exhibition of work by contemporary Russian sculptor, Sergei Isupov. The exhibition will be on view November 12, 2010 – January 22, 2011, and marks the artist’s first show with the gallery. He + She will include recent work produced over a year spent in Estonia, as well as major works from the artist’s career. The exhibition will open with a reception for the artist on Friday, November 12 from 6:00-8:00 pm at Barry Friedman Ltd., 515 West 26th Street, NYC.

Often called an erotic Surrealist for his daring representations of sexuality, relationships, and human encounter, Isupov takes narrative subject matter and merges it with ceramic sculptural form. Drawing on personal experience, and human observation, he creates works that integrate autobiography with universal narrative. He states, “Everything that surrounds and excites me is automatically processed and transformed into…an artwork. […] The essence of my work is not in the medium or the creative process, but in the human beings and their incredible diversity. When I think of myself and my works, I’m not sure I create them, perhaps they create me.” While the robust, and racially distinct facial traits make each sculpture unique, they also make the body of work capable of representing universal experiences. The bold color palette, heavily tattooed faces, and textured surfaces relate these works to the aesthetics of traditional Russian art, as well as to contemporary styles of illustration.

What separates Sergei Isupov from other artists working in sculpture today is his unique integration of two-dimensional imagery, with three-dimensional form. Elaborate surface designs that address complex issues of identity, sexual behavior, and personal relationships, morph effortlessly into three-dimensional hands, arms, legs, and feet. They spread onto the underside of every bust, where highly detailed, meticulously rendered, and dream-like vignettes are concealed. These unexpected illustrations act like private thoughts and dreams of the subconscious mind. Sergei Isupov’s sculptures take on lives and personalities of their own. They communicate with the viewer through thoughtful expressions, and personal stories worn on the surface of their skin.

In contrast to the three-dimensionality of his ceramic sculpture, Isupov’s works on paper continue his exploration of scale, surface, and dimensionality. Working in both charcoal and gouache, these works explore the complexities of human emotional relationships. In close-cropped scenes, our attention is drawn to large round sets of eyes belonging to a pair of figures. While these eyes sometimes meet and embrace one another, more often, they fail to do so. The viewer bears witness to one partner’s longing, and the other’s apathetic and averted eyes. This affecting, relatable, and emotional experience is poignant on a universal level.

In her feature essay for the catalogue “Androgyny” produced in conjunction with Sergei Isupov’s solo exhibition at the Mesa Contemporary Arts Center, Arizona in 2009, Sonya Bekkerman, Vice President of Russian Art at Sotheby’s speaks about Isupov and his artistic style within the context of Russian art history. She states, “Sergei Isupov was born in the ‘60s, a decade in which Russian artists began to actively question and defy the prescribed artistic ideology dictated by the Soviet Union, and he left in 1983, just before the turbulent artistic breakthroughs incited by Gorbachev’s perestroika in 1987. […] Like many of his contemporaries who sought to express their individuality away from party control, Isupov emigrated to the United States, where he has never stopped looking inward and revealing truths, free associations, and sheer id, no matter how cryptic, filtered through an American and Russian lens.”

Sergei Isupov’s work is included in the permanent collection of the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston; Racine Art Museum, Wisconsin; Carnegie Museum of Art, Pittsburgh, PA; Museum of Fine Arts, Boston; National Gallery of Australia, Canberra; Museum of Art and Design, New York; and Museum fur Angewandte, Kunst, Frankfurt, Germany. Isupov has had solo exhibitions at Mesa Contemporary Arts Center, Arizona and The Daum Museum of Contemporary Art, Missouri. He has participated in group exhibitions at the 2009 World Contemporary Ceramics Exhibition at the 5th World Ceramic Biennale in Korea; The Kentucky Museum of Art and Craft; Fuller Craft Museum, Massachusetts; and the John Michael Kohler Arts Center, Wisconsin. He lives and works in Cummington, MA.

Running concurrently in an adjacent gallery will be new sculptures by Takahiro Kondo.
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