In Pavel Pepperstein’s inventive, figurative drawings and paintings, political and cultural symbols are set in fantastical landscapes and scenarios. In his twelve-part watercolour series Holy Politics
(2013) shown in the exhibition, he comments on the present state of the world with sardonic wit, humour, surrealism, and criticality in equal
measure. Problems of capitalism and democracy, the troubles of Europe, and animals threatened with extinction are transformed into visual
stories in Pepperstein’s characteristic serpentine, ornate and colourful style. We see technological progress destroying the world, Europe harassed by Americans, Chinese, Russians, Muslims, and the Taliban, while the fate of endangered species is compared to the holocaust; and thus the political dimension penetrates the aesthetic. His highly imaginative, fluidly and delicately executed watercolours connect Russian avant-garde iconography to traditional landscape painting,
and pop art, comic book style and children’s book illustrations. As the artist himself says, he “attempts to take a child’s –or even a fairytale– view of political reality” and: “today, it’s not easy to find intellectual freedom, so it necessitates a switch to a more naive, childlike language of raw emotion, on which it becomes harder to exert an outside influence or control.” Pepperstein (the artist’s pseudonym) fashions bizarre stories and comments on them with enigmatic, oracular or piercing texts
in a graceful sinuous handwriting. His work is a critique on political history by using Suprematist and illustrative imagery, and the utopian aesthetics of the Russian avant-garde and Soviet space age;
these visual references he weaves into inventive stories with a mischievous conceptualism, resulting in what he calls “psychedelic realism”. In his work he projects “a feeling of utopia, or a wish for utopia”
but most of all, his practice alludes to the desire for change.