Beware of the bird!
The works of Russian artist Evgeny Antufiev transport us into the secret realm of myths and mysteries. His latest large-scale mosaic, unveiled recently at Art Basel, is no exception.
Coming from the remote East-Siberian region of Tyva, Evgeny Antufiev (b. 1986) has developed a visual language which is suggestive of esoteric myths and rituals, the secret lore of forgotten tribes that never existed in reality. His imagery seems to stem from the rich spiritual soil of his exotic homeland. The most widespread religion in Tyva is Tibetan Buddhism, heavily influenced by the traditions of local Shamanism. This approach has brought Antufiev recognition, both in Russia and overseas. He took part in the Manifesta biennale in Zurich in 2016 and received the much-coveted Kandinsky prize twice, the first time as a ‘Young Artist’ in 2009 and later in the most prestigious ‘Project of the Year’ category in 2019. While creating his objects and installations, he uses different techniques and materials from embroidery to wooden sculpture. One of his favourite traditions and media is the art of the mosaic, which he adorns with pieces of malachite, a rare semi-precious stone once found in parts of Russia and used much in Russian 19th century decorative arts. Many of these mosaic works were co-created with his long-time collaborator, artist Liubov Nalogina. A new mosaic (untitled, as most of Antufiev’s works are) depicts a battle between two many-headed monsters, a snake and a bird. This fantastic scene, rendered in a serene, decorative style brings to mind the scariest bits of Ancient Greek mythology, along with the most graceful Pompeian mosaics. The large-scale triptych, measuring over two metres in height, was recently shown at Art Basel in the Statements section of the fair by London’s Emalin gallery. The handsome price tag attached to the work matched in size and style the work itself, which was quickly snapped up by a lucky collector for a price understood to be 75,000 Euros, plus taxes.