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‘It’s Important to Combine Painting with Modern Technology’

On January 19, the HSE ART GALLERY hosted the opening of a new exhibition, ‘Majors, Minors. Aftertone’, which will last until March 10. The exhibition features works created by students of the HSE Art and Design School as part of their courses on modern painting and creating art projects using photography and neural networks. The exhibition was curated by artists and teachers Olga Chernysheva, Vladislav Efimov, as well as art critic Nicolas Audureau.

For their work, the students explored various sounds in the surrounding space, which they later transformed into visual images. Visitors to the exhibition can see two different techniques: works painted with oil or acrylic, and photographs created using neural networks.

Vladislav Efimov, teacher of Photography and Contemporary Art at the HSE Art and Design School, said that the idea of creating an exhibition originated with Olga Chernysheva, who taught a variation on modern painting at the school. ‘The theme of the exhibition is wonderful,’ he says. ‘I was invited to participate in it because I teach a course on photography and neural networks, which, in fact, is also close to the exhibition theme. It’s important to combine painting with modern technology, and it is also important that we develop it.’

Ivan Klekovkin
HSE Art and Design School

Ivan Klekovkin, third-year student of the programme in Design, debuted as an artist at the exhibition. ‘I went through a lot of different topics and couldn't find a visual style for them. One day, I was sitting and feeling sad in my apartment and noticed the space around me, which seemed tense. It was the period before my exams. That's how I found some musicality and rhythms in my everyday space,’ says Ivan.

Sofia Chichkina
HSE Art and Design School

Sofia Chichkina, third-year student of the programme in Design, went to a water park in search of inspiration. ‘That space was constantly making noise, it had its own sound,’ she explains. ‘When I had to choose a topic of my work, I decided to work with the sketches I made at the water park, as I managed to convey a certain musicality of the pool.’

Arina Karpenko, third-year student of the programme in Design, captured the atmosphere of different playlists in her paintings. ‘I associate them with the brightest moments of my life, so I portrayed myself and what I was experiencing when I was listening to them. I made four works and four playlists in total. A sad girl with a cat represents music about drama and suffering. Another picture represents a playlist with the music followed by a funny text. Most often I turn it on when I'm on the subway or bus,’ she says.

Daria Dogaeva (left)
HSE Art and Design School

Daria Dogaeva, first-year student of the master's programme ‘Modern Technologies for Teaching Design and Art’, shared that her task was to create a work using a neural network. ‘Neural networks act as full-fledged co-authors,’ explains Daria. ‘We expand the space with the neural network and look for new entities, organisms that suddenly appear there by themselves. I selected the photos according to certain patterns, repetitions, and natural textures.’

In addition to the topic stated by the curators, painting and neural networks share a difficulty in terms of mastering techniques and tools. Artificial intelligence becomes an assistant only after careful study of its logic and hidden mechanisms. The artist strives for a certain result, but this is preceded by a huge number of iterations that help to establish contact with the mechanism.

Vassa Pyrkova (right)
HSE Art and Design School

‘If we talk about painting, many participants started working on projects with digital sketches, which they used to use in their illustrative practice,’ says Vassa Pyrkova, HSE ART GALLERY Director. ‘The transition to physical media required a lot of work, trial, error, and days spent in the studio. We are used to seeing painting in its finished form: a holistic composition, a deep colour scheme, a high-quality design in a frame. In a sense, the project participants had to defeat themselves, because starting to work with a painting medium is definitely a competition. We managed to preserve the feeling of exciting preparation in the exhibition artists’ sketches in the gallery space —a key element of the design. HSE Sound Lab, which prepared the audio accompaniment of the exhibition, also managed to notice and interpret this feeling.’

The exhibition ‘Majors, Minors. Aftertune’ is open until March 10, 2024 (Mon.—Sun., 12 pm–8 pm, free entry).

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