I was raised in the post-Soviet era with a non-acceptance ideology of personal identity and sexuality. The close-minded way of thinking of Soviet people would not consent, or approve of self-expression and uniqueness. I always had an interest in masculinity and the male form, and how men visually express their individuality through their body. The painting Saint Sebastian (1474) by Sandro Botticelli led me to look closer at contemporary male nudity, and the acceptance of the naked male body in our society. In my current project, I’m exploring the online world of the naked male selfie, which is a new phenomenon in the 21st century and has not been fully researched yet. I’m seeing the naked male selfie as a new form of contemporary narcissism and cyber exhibitionism – an ideas based on my readings of works by Sigmund Freud (1914), Slavoj Zizek (2012) and Jacques Lacan (1949). The naked male selfie is a new method, in which modern men can document and preserve their body in a digital way. By using the internet as a tool, they create an online time capsule, similar to how cavemen captured their existence in Parietal Art.
I’m also looking at, and trying to understand the operation of internet technology. From my knowledge of internet processes, I consider it to be a cyber substance and associating it with a human digestive system as a big online organ that works nonstop. The internet and Wi-Fi have become parts of most people’s lives and surround us everywhere. This fact me to raise the question of the amount and type of invisible data that is floating around us every second? We are like Homer Simpson, in one of The Simpson’s episodes, trying to catch an email in his sitting room with his bare hands to prevent it being sent. Part of my work’s influences are coming from understanding and visualising the exchange and flotation of digital data, - raising the question of what is being left behind as online rubbish?
My work process involves gathering naked male selfies from the internet and dismantling them into fragmented pieces. As a starting point I reassemble them into collages or pencil / ink drawings. As the final piece, I paint them in abstract styles in oil on canvas, focusing on male body outlines, geometric forms and negative zones. Looking closely at the selfie, I’m focusing on the space and all objects including the male physique. By exploring and analyzing the relationship between camera, colours and shapes I’m having a dialogue with the selfie, and my paintings in some way become the fine residue of it. Through my art, I'm taking the selfie from one dimension of existence, preserving elements of it and transferring it to my work. By capturing aspects of the space in which the male body is present, I show its existence through fragments of chaos and reality. In some cases, elements that are appearing in the paintings are coming from my own surroundings, rather than the male selfie. One of these elements is the ladder, which comes from a Prince album cover that I see on an everyday basis.
I’m showing human physicality through the richness and thickness of the paint, and as I believe it is equally important what is on the background as what is on the front of canvas. Every mark in my work is coming from a combination of inspiration, personal interpretation and intuition. I find it very easy to connect to selfies, as I know every movement and setup of making them. Every time I go through them for some new ideas I find new and inspiring elements, or things in them that I haven’t seen before. I’m inspired by Wilhelm Sasnal (1972) who successfully captures the human body using components of realism and abstraction, and Albert Oehlen (1954) who combines figurative elements, marks and collage pieces in his paintings. I’m manipulating and playing with the shapes that I discover in the naked male selfies and I’m trying to connect with the audience through the colours that I’m using in my work. My mental projection interchanges the staged naked male selfies by transferring them into simple organic forms and lines, which never stay still and the drip are shifting in different directions. My paintings stretch outside of the canvas frame, existing somewhere beyond where our reality meets the cyber world and human fantasy.