Sofya Abbott, owner of the new Art Space — SAAS gallery in London — will celebrate her gallery opening with an inaugural exhibition of Val Chtak‘s work — a contemporary Russian artist. British Celebrities will be Chtak’s first solo show in London.
Valery Chtak deconstructs what it means to be a Celebrity: famous as a face, famous for their name, famous for what they stand for. But why are they even famous?
In this new collection commissioned exclusively for the opening of SAAS, Chtak takes a new look at some of Britain’s most recognized names. Mixing influences from Dadaism and absurd poetry, Chtak makes fun of the idea of being a celebrity, rejecting the logic and aesthetics of modern society, instead expressing nonsense, irrationality and anti-bourgeois protest.
These are British Celebrities as you have never seen them before.
Born in 1981, Chtak has emerged as a dynamic creative force in Russia, culminating in 2016 with his show If Not My Way – No Way at the Moscow Museum of Modern Art. His work, drawing on graffiti, skateboards and ‘useless but beautiful things’ is instantly recognisable for its monochrome grey, black or white palette and use of slogans. ‘You take something easy and people say: “Cool man, we like it,”’ says Chtak. ‘Anyway you have the whole universe of colours in these two basics, black and white. Grey is always different and meaningful too. Grey is blue and red and green. It is any colour you like, as long as it’s grey.’
Adding to his edgy reputation, it’s rumoured that Chtak began painting after a spell in a mental asylum where he was treated for paranoia. He certainly received no artistic education. Influenced by Basquiat and Joseph Beuys, Chtak’s monochrome paintings depict the ‘anti-spectacular’ and focus on the meaninglessness of life. He claims his generation is not interested in politics and that depicting anti-Putin works would mean he would ‘suck as much as Putin.’
Chtak is happy to be exhibiting in Britain, having once professed a wish that he’d been born on a Glasgow council estate and was a ‘ned’ (the Scottish word for ‘chav’). Gaunt, bearded and usually photographed with a raised index finger wearing a hoodie or baseball cap, Chtak’s has earned reputation as a provocative underground commentator. ‘Everything I say is a lie,’ he once said, happily referring to his work as ‘shit’. ‘What you see is what you get,’ he says. ‘I have some thoughts about what it means. If you don’t understand it, that’s your problem. Don’t ask me. Because tomorrow I will be in Moscow and the next day I will be dead.’ In fact, Chtak has just returned from an exhibition of his work at Art Basel. Chtak has a unique style of addressing the audience with strong and direct messages. Being a philologist he uses the power of words. He recurs to different languages to enhance the image.
Prepare to be amusingly baffled by this new show of about a dozen new works, depicting Chtak’s take on a range of British celebrities, whose identities are yet to be announced.