September 2017


In the mirror-lined ballet studios the dancers are matching the images of movements with the reflection of their physical bodies. They repeat perceptibly same set of acts and gestures, however the same act repeated can never be the same, if only it has the context of the first. The same laughter repeated is sinister; the same smile is vicious.


In the town square of my childhood stands a colossal monument to the man who re-invented the H Bomb. His endeavour to re-creating the missile is akin to Borges’s Pierre Menard’s effort to re-create Don Quixote line-by-line. The two inventions, both original, are echoed in the representation of the two halves of the atom supported by the gargantuan twin concrete pillars on each side of his figure.


The gestures made outside of the space of painting enter it via screen printing. They populate the canvas devoid of organic quality − having been subjected to an extensive process of priming. The painted mark obstructs the light from curing emulsion on the screen’s surface. The areas where the light didn’t pass become areas where the ink can flow through. The marks thus obstruct the light like human bodies obstruct thermal radiation − producing nuclear shadows. The original is absent, the print (shadow) only accentuating its lack.


The ‘Split Atom’ monument is reflected in the oval fountain; the two pillars are falling into the void of the sky mirrored by the still waters. The atom’s fragmented orbitals are encircled in the fountain’s frame. I haven’t been there for twenty years and I hear that the place is favoured by skateboarders and couples. Human bodies fill the square beneath the re-inventor’s frozen gaze. They move, breathe and exchange smiles, sincere and cruel.


Olga Grotova (b. 1986, St Petersburg, Russia) lives and works in London

Images courtesy of the artist

  1. Snowflake Schema, performance, 2017
  2. Untitled (Mesh Folds), acrylic and screen print on canvas, 160 x 140 cm, 2017
  3. Untitled, acrylic and screen print on canvas, 120 x 80 cm, 2017
  4. Untitled, acrylic and screen print on canvas, 168 x 120 cm, 2017
  5. Snowflake Schema, performance, 2017
  6. Untitled, acrylic and screen print on canvas, 168 x 120 cm, 2017
  7. Snowflake Schema, performance, 2017
  8. Untitled, acrylic and screen print on canvas, 150 x 110 cm, 2017
  9. Snowflake Schema, performance, 2017
  10. Untitled, acrylic and screen print on canvas, 180 x 160 cm, 2017