There is a hypothesis in modern astronomy, cosmology and theoretical physics that the universe contains “dark matter” – a substance, whose existence cannot be observed directly as it neither emits nor scatters light or other electromagnetic radiation. Instead, it can be inferred from its gravitational effects on visible matter. There also exists a suggestion that the mass of dark matter is a quarter of the energy-mass of our universe. This phenomenon, or rather an idea of its existence is deeply inspiring: something, that is immensely large and heavy, yet ephemeral. Something that exists in the realm of physical objects, yet is invisible.
Dark matter is what is surrounding us, chaos hidden underneath the mundane reality. Timeless, silent, invisible. It is the dust of time, the remains of generations. It is what everything started from and what everything will come into. Dust, decay, and the start of the new beginnings.
The artists presented in this show work with the materials, vernacular to the area they live in. In the case of Oreste Casalini, an artist born in Naples, now living and working in Rome, he creates his abstract turbulent works using the lava from the Vesuvius volcano. This natural black pigment mixed with acrylic gives infinite power and energy to his compositions.
Nikolay Lavdansky works with the oak wood found in the forests, which surround the ancient city of Vladimir. This material, known for its strength and durability, is traditional for Russian carpenters. It bears an important symbolic aspect in it, being deeply rooted in Slavonic folklore and mythology. Oak trees often represent the centre of the Universe, placed on a remote island in the ocean – it is a mighty icon of a wise forefather. In the words of Nikolay, he is inspired by the idea of how long this wood had been growing on this land, by its history. The oak tree is known to have one of the longest lifespans in the kingdom of plants: its average age is 500-700 years, and some species are known to be at least 1000 years old. For the artist, the wood he works with is a silent witness of the history happening around it, and this is reflected in the title of the collection of his objects: The Mongols are Coming. One can imagine the dark ages, troupes of nomads and their horses, fear and battles looking at the elegant interior pieces, created by Nikolay.
The denial of colour at this exhibition is not a formalistic gesture, but a reflection of the physics of dark matter. The “lacking” black colour helps to focus on the texture and form of the presented objects. It also unifies the objects by two different artists in the different media, and helps to perceive them in the same framework of space.
In the cases of both artists, the materials they use have been re-discovered, poeticised and brought to a new art form. Despite the diversity of the media used, both canvases by Oreste Casalini and collectible design pieces by Nikolay Lavdansky carry the sublime energy of chaos and time.