Andrei Molodkin conceptualizes the ideas of our present day culture in an ongoing series of crude oil sculptures. The artist collects residue oil from the pipelines of national corporations to create his art. In a labor-intensive process, wax sculptures are casts into acrylic blocks. Through means of heat and pressure the wax sculpture melts away – leaving a negative space. The hollow imprint of the mold is then filled with crude oil creating liquid sculptures.
By transforming oil from an organic resource into an aesthetic form, the artist raises important questions regarding the role of oil within our contemporary Western culture. Mr. Molodkin initiates a political and cultural discourse in which he asserts that oil as a necessary commodity substitutes our cultural heritage: “Our Heritage is a process of casting monuments. The memory of Earth fills up forms of cultural memory as oil displaces classical sculpture taking the place of our heritage – our heritage is measured in barrels.” The clash between culture and economy is seen where the artist uses recognizable religious images or cultural iconography as his subject matter. These images are substituted and exchanged into oil icons. For Andrei Molodkin, juxtaposing classical representations with oil suggests a substitution of economy with culture.
In the human body parts series, oil flows within organs, reflecting the depth of our oil dependent society; oil becomes our cultural blood. The artist states that culture is an emptiness we have to fill and affirm with economics – “vacant forms are easily filled with equally vacant content, including any ideology and any discourse.” In the era of globalization, oil becomes a homogenous socio-cultural reference used by Mr. Molodkin as raw material for art.
Andrei Molodkin was born in Boui Russia and currently lives and works in Paris, France. This is his second solo show with Kashya Hildebrand Gallery in New York.