Georgy (Gosha) Ostretsov (b.1967, Russia)

Carving out his own space within conceptualism, multi-media artist Georgii “Gosha” Ostretsov goes beyond black humor and satire, working in the vein of absurdity that has been an enduring characteristic of Russian culture. The artist’s ongoing New Government project synthesizes themes and iconography present throughout his oeuvre, providing commentary on the nature of power and despotism in post-Soviet Russia. Creating a parallel world in which artist superheroes attempt to wrest control from a reviled regime, Ostretsov himself plays various roles in the project, both masked and unmasked, including the leader of the new regime, its propaganda minister, and even social dissidents.  

Sometimes compared to the East German Sigmar Polke, Ostretsov works in a cultural milieu viewed through the prism of history and Pop Art. From the early 19th century literary works of Gogol, to the absurdist’s writings and the theatre of OBERIU, to the seminal narrative installation works of Ilya Kabakov, Ostretsov’s artistic language of pop conceptualism has taken root. Exotic, colorful, mass culture forms, inevitably politicized with the profound, resonate within today’s socioeconomic climate. The phantom world of Gosha Ostretsov reveals the simple mechanisms of power and the levers of manipulation of mass consciousness. The artist’s almost unclassifiable multi-media arts practice demonstrates both his commitment to the genre and his ongoing attempts to redefine it on Russian soil.  

Ostretsov tells his story of a larger than life artist who prevails over drudgery and evil in his ongoing artistic-political projects. The superheroes in this action-packed parody create a utopia of art as an active, although not always simple, political power; Ostretsov creates a lively combination of Pop and Pollock. With a subversive edge, the work comments on various political, social and aesthetic phenomena; hidden behind masks, the players are ineffective and lack human desires. Ostretsov manages to preserve the provocative ambiguity of his project and to remain in an invulnerable position of independent social criticism, invariably quick witted and precise. The phantom world Gosha creates reveals the simple mechanisms of power and the levers pulled, manipulating mass consciousness. 

Georgy (Gosha) Ostretsov, b. in 1967 in Moscow, graduated from the Theatre Art School at the Bolshoi Theatre, lives and works in Moscow. Represented Russia during the 63rd Venice Biennale in 2009.

Ostretsov, Georgy (Gosha) b.1967

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