Stass Shpanin. Predicting the Past: Curator Vitaly Patsyukov


American artist Stass Shpanin, born in the USSR, presents art exhibit “Predicting the Past”. It juxtaposes historical images of tsarist Russia and colonial America. The artist allows viewers to play with the time and analyze roots of cultural identifications of these superpowers. Curator of the exhibit - Vitaly Patsyukov, head of interdisciplinary programs of the National Center for Contemporary Art.

The exhibit, “Predicting the Past” consists of two parts. The first one, “Displacement” connects fragments of pictorial Russian XIX century history by utilizing images of photographs, coats of arms, and artifacts. The past is never concrete; history is a living, biological substance that is always changing. It is no longer a fixed monument, but a constant evolution of ideas to suit a contemporary dogma. Stass Shpanin paintings are attempts to restore the visual memory of a past state that was displaced. One of the central paintings of the series, “Last Sigh of Sleipnir” consists of mythological and historical images united and reformed in the synthesis of biological forms, creating a biomorphic landscape frozen in time.

The second part – “Travels of Colonel Colt” deals with colonial past of the United States. “God made all men, Lincoln gave them freedom, but Samuel Colt made all men equal” – Americans say. While Samuel Colt is engrained in American history, many fail to realize that Colt not only manufactured guns but also actively sold them. It is not a common knowledge that Colt had been traveling all around the world in attempts to sell guns to everyone – even to the confronting parts. Folklore says, during the Russian-Turkish war, Colt presented guns to both Russian Emperor and Turkish Sultan from the same set with engravings “Your neighbors already bought revolvers, don’t stay aside.” Colt changed his beliefs like a chameleon blending into the environment.

Stass Shpanin, artist: “I had imagined Colt, traveling around the globe, with the ship wheel and revolvers. Every time,visiting new country, he was blending in with its values and rules, therefore, every canvas has a unique colors of the visited city.”

Vitaly Patsyukov, curator: “Stass Shpanin’s constrictive method allows us to have a look into the preview of our history, commenting the present as a paradoxical opportunities of the past, and the past as Kazimir Malevich’s “additionalelement” to the present. The artistic development and creative process of Stass Shpanin progresses through the arrow of the reverse time, directing from the future into the preceding faces of history and civilization.”

Simultaneously, Smack Mellon Gallery in NYC presents the exhibit “Story of a Story” curated by Shlomit Dror; where Stass Shpanin shows his earlier paintings from the “Trialectics” series, where artist juxtaposes images of pre-revolution Russia and Europe. Shpanin has exhibited work in the United States, Italy, France, Israel and Russia. His work is in the collections of the Jasper Rand Art Museum, the Museum of Contemporary Russian Art, and the Museum of Maccabi Games, as well as numerous private collections; including former U.S. President George W. Bush and President Heydar Aliyev of Azerbaijan. In 2014, Shpanin became a member of the Board of Trustees of the University of Hartford Art School in Connecticut, USA.