The ROSPHOTO State Russian Museum and Exhibition Centre presents an exhibition of works by Valery Orlov, entitled Significant Objects. The Fascination of Still Life. Trained as a graphic artist, Valery Orlov has been engaged with photography since the early 1980s. From 1983, he is a member of the Russian Union of Artists.

With the precision of an artist, delicately and fondly, Orlov treats light, composition and form in his photographic works. Simultaneous complexity and simplicity of his photographs erase the boundaries between graphic art, photography, and painting. The inevitable two-dimensionality of photographs, as well as the oxymoronic nature of the genre of still life (literally translated from the French: „dead nature“), is perceived in metaphorical sense. Orlov’s subtle artistic method reveals the world’s ambiguity — objects lose their corporeality, the past becomes the present, while memories gain materiality.

Objects stripped of any context play a central part in Orlov’s photographs. They are put against a solid color background, which gives an impression of them being on the edge of nothingness. The background serves both as a flat surface against which an object is outlined and as a vague airy space, which points out the versatility of the relations between the object and the space.

The exhibition includes more than 60 photographs from the series In Memory of Astor Piazzolla; Seashells; White Paper; Small, Simple, Significant; Some Exercises in Writing with Light, which were created between the mid-90s and today.

Works by Valery Orlov are held in the collections of the State Russian Museum (St. Petersburg), the State Hermitage (St. Petersburg), the State Tretyakov Gallery (Moscow), the Pushkin State Museum of Fine Arts (Moscow), and in other museum collections both in Russia and worldwide (Belgium, the USA, Germany, Italy, and France).

Valery Orlov lives and works in Moscow, Russia.

Valery Orlov on his project:

„It seems to me that the language, shaping art, culture and even history, is a temporary phenomenon. After a while, it becomes itself a subject of interpretation, with ironic, comic or tragic undertones to it.

The diffusion of these numerous connections in time makes us wonder what are the possible ways to represent our ideas about them. Time gives us a choice. And we, being toys in the hands of the history, draw boundaries of our cultural protocol and shape our views, constrained by the society and by our own understanding of the significance of these views.

Forms in my photographs are simple and silent. They do not intend to attract one’s attention. They exist in different time and space. They bear traces of various epochs, of impressions which once had deeply moved me and still live within this space of memory, conserved in photographs. They give a glimpse beyond everyday life, into a state of being miraculously kept in my consciousness. They contain tacit reminiscences of the traumatizing history of my country and its people. These photographs only contain memory of the scars of time.

All these series deal with memory and with objects that accompany me in my life. I have been shooting these objects, kept in boxes or scattered on shelves, for decades, and I continue to do so. Snapshots of them carry more of this experience of memory — memory of the life I lived — than easel paintings.

This is not nostalgia. This is a wish to preserve the traces left in the disturbed memory. The imagery of these traces is not created by hands; it is deprived of any autobigraphical character. Rendered by the magic of lenses, it is appended during the act of visual perception. During this intense but unsteady act, one almost gains an insight into the enigmatic essence of photography which lies in the ability of an instant snapshot to maintain the continuity of an event. The real object, bearing the traces of the past end evoking my memories when I shoot it, immediately becomes a part of the past again, an illusory reality of a photographic image.

This is nothing but a paradox. The past, through the moment of now, becomes past again, but the evidence thereof is given to us in the photographs now“.

From December 23 until February 26 in ROSPHOTO.