Untitled1

Courtesy of Hay Hill Gallery

To other people’s amazement who cannot even imagine it, it’s not for the past but the present I feel extremely nostalgic. Andrey  Voznesensky Nostalgia for the Present (Translated from the Russian by Alec Vagapov) As autumn sheds its leaves to reveal longer nights and darker days, Russian painter Igor Tcholaria is matching the changing mood with his new show at Hay Hill Gallery. This bright jewel of an exhibition borrows its title from Voznesensky’s poem Nostalgia for the Present, and continues the theme of wistful melancholy. Peering through a rose tinted lens, the artist turns to the here and now, treating it with a contemplation usually reserved for retrospect. Although the poet notes that he can ‘never catch hold of it’, this painter refuses to let the fleeting present elude him. He names his style ‘retroperspective’ and the impasto layers are endless as colourful handkerchiefs from a magician’s sleeve. Dramatic leaps across the canvas express an enchanting circus of moving light and swooping shadow. There are ballets and puppets, dancing horses and the flying trapeze- with Tcholaria as ringmaster directing the spectacle. This longing for the present is neatly expressed in our current obsession with social media- every moment being viewed as the potential memory. Applications, such as Instagram, document the future past in their haze of vintage fuzzy filters. The faux-retro adds weight and authenticity to immediate existence, bridging the gap between the ideal and the real. Tcholaria’s paintings are not naturalistic, but manage to convey brilliant vitality and exuberance; they are contemporary ideas seen through a familiar filter of old masters. Chaos and order are balanced on canvas through complicated pattern and simple outlines. In a post-modern culture, identities seem blurred and we increasingly find ourselves at odds with our surroundings. We may feel homesick- but we are also thoroughly sick of home. The past appears to be a magical place we have been exiled from forever; the future promised land vanishes in a miserable puff of smoke the instant we reach it. Consciousness is wasted by mourning what has been lost or obsessing over finding utopia. Our ability to live fully in reality has become limited. Nostalgia for the Present offers a place to step aside from the push and pull, just to be still for a moment. It is up to you the spectator how long you pause, constantly reconnecting to where you stand right now, to not be swept back in hindsight or hoodwinked by whatever may or may not happen next. To focus on the present frees you from regrets and anxious fears. It is the only place you really exist, yet many find it the hardest place to remain in. Thich Nhat Hanh wrote: ‘The present moment is the only moment available to us, and it is the door to all moments.’ ‘Igor Tcholaria: Nostalgia for the Present’ is at Hay Hill Gallery, 35 Baker Street, London W1U 8EN until the 25th October 2014. http://www.hayhillgallery.com