Gallery / Pink magic

Pink magic

The new project by Olga Lomaka, intriguingly titled Pink Magic, is a series of works that contain elements of installation and sculpture. The idea of the project is based on the interplay of three-dimensional space and the illusion of flatness created through a certain monotony of designs, each with a deliberately made almond-shaped hole in their midst and a contrasting colour or pattern within.

Aesthetic principles of Lucio Fontana, Italian abstractionist artist of the mid-20th century, lie behind Lomaka’s body of work. Fontana was known for making intentional cuts through the surface of his canvasses, thus, seeking to break through their materiality, in order to reach out to transcendental dimensions. Fontana’s pronounced cuts expressed the artist’s attitude to the act of creation ex nihilo — out of the void and absoluteness of the canvas. He endowed them with the ritual significance of “birth”, thus linking them to cosmic infinity. This way one could experience the serenity that arises from the possibility of going beyond the permissible within the visible reality. At the same time the cuts emanated an exciting sexuality, signalling the desire to penetrate through and beyond the given dimension. In artist’s mind, they were tantamount to philosophical concepts of lovemaking, to detachment from the pressure of day-to-day problems and the reunion with the universe.

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Pink magic

The new project by Olga Lomaka, intriguingly titled Pink Magic, is a series of works that contain elements of installation and sculpture. The idea of the project is based on the interplay of three-dimensional space and the illusion of flatness created through a certain monotony of designs, each with a deliberately made almond-shaped hole in their midst and a contrasting colour or pattern within.

Aesthetic principles of Lucio Fontana, Italian abstractionist artist of the mid-20th century, lie behind Lomaka’s body of work. Fontana was known for making intentional cuts through the surface of his canvasses, thus, seeking to break through their materiality, in order to reach out to transcendental dimensions. Fontana’s pronounced cuts expressed the artist’s attitude to the act of creation ex nihilo — out of the void and absoluteness of the canvas. He endowed them with the ritual significance of “birth”, thus linking them to cosmic infinity. This way one could experience the serenity that arises from the possibility of going beyond the permissible within the visible reality. At the same time the cuts emanated an exciting sexuality, signalling the desire to penetrate through and beyond the given dimension. In artist’s mind, they were tantamount to philosophical concepts of lovemaking, to detachment from the pressure of day-to-day problems and the reunion with the universe.

The idea of searching for the unknown in familiar routine objects and forms finds its further intriguing development in the project Pink Magic. There it becomes the essential basic element — an artistic evolution of some kind. The holes in Lomaka’s constructions, in the same manner as in Lucio Fontana’s cuts, lure in with a string of magical discoveries and promise sensual pleasure, eventually bestowing a new life upon those who would dare to explore them. The shape of the cut, the hole itself and the visible segments of the matter within, as well as the ways of interaction with the main protagonist emerging in these sculptural installations, are not at all accidental here. Lomaka seems to be constantly polishing her ability to communicate with the viewer through symbols by transferring her images from the flatness of paintings to three-dimensional environment. She offers to her audience a vivid artistic game whose participants possess an inherent ambiguity, as it usually happens in magicians’ shows. For this reason, the hole in Pink Magic is not just a hole and some kind of a gateway, a window to another dimension. It is never just a conventional cut in the midst of the canvas, but a symbol of sexuality, femininity — the womb that begets life and gives pleasure.

The second important protagonist of the project is the male character from the popular film series known as the Pink Panther. He emerges in front of the audience through the opening in the construction, above it or even from behind. His colourful sculpture embodies the better known to the viewer image of the cartoon character. This cartoon personage first featured onscreen in early 1960s. Since then it acquired the status of a pop icon in mass media. Phlegmatic, ambitious and constantly managing to involve himself into various comic situations but eventually resolving them with a triumph, this original character became well-liked by the audience. Olga Lomaka faithfully captures his true nature and his manly character, for in the original storyline written by Blake Edwards this fictional creature was an animal of an unnatural colouration, which stood out as symbol of a very rare precious stone of fancy colour — a giant pink diamond, which bestowed upon its owner a whole range of material possessions and guaranteed satisfaction of his every whim. As the diamond became the main tool for obtaining desired, the Pink Panther figuratively possesses magical properties by association.

Olga Lomaka consciously embarks on the path of representational tradition, first ushered by Jeff Koons — a shocking and successful American artist, a proponent of simulationism and appropriation. In one of his landmark projects he represented the Pink Panther, the product of mass consciousness, in the arms of bare-breasted actress Jayne Mansfield, who appears as literal embodiment of carnal desire. This provocative sculpture gained extensive media attention as epitome of pop culture. This Koons’ way of plagiarism and appropriation becomes fundamental to postmodern interpretation of textuality.

References to Koons constantly feature in Lomaka’s work not only as a tribute but also as an invitation for the younger generation to delve into history underpinning any phenomenon in society. Artistic objects by Koons are spontaneous but simultaneously deliberate and calculated choice. It is a premeditated aiming at mass culture and an easily comprehensible, familiar world of consumerism and comfort, whose main goal is satisfaction of one’s own material needs. Koons operates with universal human values that are always basic. Lomaka works alongside similar lines, inwardly understanding that the goal of art is the dialogue with her audience and ability to raise the most relevant and intimate issues.

In developing her discourse on masculinity and femininity, Lomaka transforms the traditional “battle of the sexes” into a joyful play from which both parties derive pleasure. She focuses on the climax of their mutual relationship, resulting in these moments of magic. The Pink Panther assumes various imaginable poses and positions around the almond-shaped hole, powerless to escape its magical attraction, revealing his dependence. Step by step, he experiments with the variety of methods to achieve the desired goal which lies beyond this reality, and is namely, hidden behind the hole. Only when being joined together and acting together, they achieve the desired catharsis, so evident in the joyful emotions of Panther, manifest as stars and circles inhabiting the space inside the cut. Only then, as the artist believes, will the “pink magic” happen.

The artist continues to synthesise in her work her own exploration of psychology, philosophical concepts, and experiments with different movements of art. One cannot fail to notice a thoughtful approach towards the project and conceptual consistency between the works, their cyclical character, used to the best effect by the author. Twelve installations can be organised into three groups, each dominated by its colour, each featuring specific scenarios of interaction between the protagonists at various stages. Each group is characterised by its own development and dynamics: the beginning, the climax and the end. The thirteenth work is given special prominence in the cycle: it is a huge installation, over than 3.5 meters long, titled Infinity. It stands out among other works, being displayed above, or beyond them as the quintessence of life, the interdependence of male and female, and most importantly — as the magic of life in a continuity of existence — it is precisely at this point that Olga Lomaka reveals her author’s intent. It goes without saying, that the whole series is executed in the best traditions of pop art: ironic, larger than life, with its customary insouciance and a touch of infantilism.

The Pink Magic explores stereotypes and surrogates, made popular by mass media, and extracts from them the tendency of the society to gain the desired thing that moves life, art and culture. The artist does not only appropriate the readymade objects, evocative of popular culture, but thus endows them with existential values. One needs to subject to scrutiny personal as well as communal, societal goals, in order to grasp the true meaning of life, comprehend the purpose of ones’ existence and the ways to fulfil it. And in the long run, achievement of these objectives becomes attainable only through merging, teamwork and the atmosphere of harmony and mutual cooperation between these two fundamental principles of the universe.

Dmitry Korsun, Art critic

March 2017