Art mirrors life

Art mirrors life

Moscow artist Nikolay Ryndin recently discovered an unnamed tragedy behind an old mirror in his studio

Who said housework was boring? Moscow artist Nikolai Ryndin (b. 1988) was clearing out his studio one day and needed to dust an old psyche - a free-standing mirror with an intricately carved wooden frame - that had been in his studio for as long as he could remember. It was so dirty he even removed the plywood backing to vacuum the mirror from behind. As he took out the wood, a stack of old black and white photographs fell out. Apparently, one of the previous owners had been hiding them there, terrified his home might be searched by the KGB. Judging by the clothes they were wearing, the photos were probably one hundred years old. What could be so incriminating about these snapshots? It was guesswork alone. Did the people belong to the aristocracy before the Bolshevik revolution or did they emigrate from Soviet Russia after it? Were they arrested for anti-Soviet words, deeds or thoughts? Did some of them fight against the Red Army during Russian Civil War after the Bolshevik revolution? “Who are those people?” the artist wondered. “What has become of them? There’s a strange feeling, as if these were the photos of my own relatives.” This mysterious find made a strong impression on the artist and he decided to turn the psyche itself into a work of art. He removed the glass and re-created the composition of one of the photos on the plywood backing by drilling small holes. Lit up from behind, the figure of a man in an armchair took on a mystical, ghost-like air. Then, he framed other portraits and hung them around the mirror. He completed the work with shards from a broken mirror in an old suitcase on the floor symbolizing the shattered lives of the anonymous people in the photos. The work is now on view at the artist’s solo exhibition at the Belyaevo Gallery in Moscow (January 14 - February 6, 2022).

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