Gosha Ostretsov, an urban dweller that habitually pokes fun at society and imposed social behaviour clichés, has recently become adept at rural life, forest life even. But, as we know – and this was also noted by Russian philosopher Aleksei F. Losev in his Ancient Mythology – as soon as one is exposed to nature, one’s worldview and optics begin to transform and ‘all of nature at once becomes mythical and magical, suddenly filled with living critters, in their own immensity and strength already infinitely superior to man. ’
Whilst wandering through the forest and going deeper and deeper into the thickets, the artist studied the outlines of tree trunks, swollen bark growths, gnarled angular roots, and complex linework of branches. It began to appear to him that no, on the contrary, it was not he but the trees that gazed intently at the visitor, coming into motion and striving to copy the human’s facial expressions and flexibility, to mimic smiles and looks.
It is said that man was created in the image and likeness of God. Yet nothing is said about other representatives of the creature world. But what about plants and animals? Man learns from nature, imbues it with sacred meaning, makes totems of plants. But to what extent are they truly inanimate? Are they sentient? Do they strive to become similar to man, to imitate the human system of spiritual values?
In his new project entitled The Likeness of the Like to the Like Gosha Ostretsov searches for answers to these complex questions, blurring the boundaries of the conventional whilst remaining true to his tongue- in-cheek approach. Forest dwellers, as if transplanted from Pieter Bruegel the Elder’s The Hunters in the Snow, solemnly carry a shroud, bearing an image of a tree cut’s ‘face’. Two figures kneel before the crucified tree creature. The finest linework and painting by Gosha Ostretsov emphasise the voluminous religious composition of the Holy iconostasis. Trees are central protagonists here, and, as you can see, they organically grow into their new image by experiencing genuine human emotions.
Gosha Ostretsov b.1967, in Moscow. Lived in Paris for ten years (1988 - 1998), now lives and works in Moscow. Works are held in The Centre Pompidou, Paris; The State Tretyakov Gallery, Moscow; The Russian Museum, Saint-Petersburg; The Museum Of Arctic and Antarctic, Saint-Petersburg; The Sigmund Freud’s Museum Of Dreams, Saint-Petersburg; in private collections of Charles Saatchi, Simon de Pury, Lawrence Graff and others.