Bogdan Zwir

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Сonsequent actions of the absurdity (Magazine FOTO&VIDEO, Russia, 2 /2006) 

What emotions does the word “absurd” evoke? A pragmatic will get confused. An analyst – annoyed. A snob will feel contempt. An optimist will burst into laughter.

Perhaps only one category of people will admire the absurd.

First of all these are children who can turn the absurd into a fairy tale and break the rules of logic. Then there are writers who materialize absurd to collections of fairy tales for children or to complicated plots of sci-fi thrillers that would be equally appealing also to pragmatics, analysts and snobs. There are also artists and photographers. But their special type makes spectators linger at their “absurd” pictures. That makes critics feel awkward questioning themselves with the eternal issue “What should be done?”. Should the creation be called a philosophic masterpiece bringing its author to Olympus downhill and should they enjoy their sagacity? Or should this “nonsense” be laughed at, unfortunate artist scathed, and they would leave their trace in history as the most objective and just? But what if it’s talent after all? What then? Fame of a boring conservative, numb conceptualist, geniuses persecutor and butcher?..

No matter what the experts, critics, connoisseurs might think and say, there is a person in St. Petersburg who admires the absurd even though he is not a child anymore. His name is not familiar even to the most obsessed bibliophile because there are simply no books written by him. He can not be called a painter because he has an idea about paintings only based on the collection of the Hermitage and the Russian Museum. And talking about photographers, they can praise or blame his works looking at them but they unanimously claim that it is no photography. And this statement is difficult to argue with because even an amateur photographer knows the meaning of the word “photography” by heart.

What is it then? The absurd? What category can you relate Bogdan Zwir to if the absurd does not only admire but also inspire him, has inner depth meaning of what is hidden in the sub-consciousness of everyone and what people who consider themselves normal and sane try to stay away from. No wonder that for hours people look at “ Pleasures garden” by Bosch and read “Dark Tower” by King and listen hundred times to the Moonlight Sonata by deaf (absurd!) Beethoven..

Contrasts and paradoxes were surrounding Bogdan since childhood: a wooden village house without any conveniences that drowned in snow till roof, it was situated next to a modern building of a famous bank and an awl-like TV tower. Winter frosts till -60 and dry summer heat of +40 with sandy air from Lena. House foundations on piles growing from permafrost, and ugly heat pipelines spoiling cold sky. Then St. Petersburg. Mystic inconceivable city built on an absurd spot by a controversial person with the cost of a paradox number of lives and expenses. The city that in absurd time became symbolic, isn’t it a perfect refuge for Bogdan Zwir? Weird author. Who is capable of distracting anybody from idle thoughtlessness, tearing away from a swamp of indifference, evoking craving for self-study and bringing fruitless ideas to life. Showing in the absurd the creative dynamics of magic images, his real fantasy is full of them.

Writer - Marina Danina

Art translation - Alexandra Karasina


Fantasy kaleidoscope (Digital photographer, Ukraine, October 2006)

Confess that something, that you do not fully understand, attracts you the most. This something can irritate and call for denial. It is just another proof of narrowness of confined human mind. On the other side, it can amaze you. This unexplainable and fertile field of emotional nuances can give you the feeling of admiration and endless possibilities of self improvement. Either way, any question that does not have an answer, will not let your mind rest. 
If there was a competition between those, that are looking for answers to hopeless questions, Bogdan Zwir would be a winner. A little boy from cold and forgotten by sun north of Russia. A college kid that troubled teachers with questions that went beyond the subject. A young man, that was not looking for a "better" place in the world, but settled in surreal Saint Petersburg. In the city, that gives most honest and exciting hints and leads. It encrypts them with a whisper of swamps and calligraphy of the rain, dirty low skies and waves of Neva river in a cold wind. It is important to have a mind enquiring enough to notice these hints. To have a creativity that is not locked up in the narrow canons of what is right and wrong. To be selfish just enough not to doubt own potential and, finally, not be afraid of loneliness, that moves an artist... 

Why number 3 is special, red color - instinctively unsettling and round forms are most harmonious? Why a crow, though smart, has an evil reputation? What is endless space and how to understand it? If we are pawns in someone's game, then where do our souls go at the end of the game? If it's wise to remain speechless and curiosity is a ticket to hell, then why these questions seem so attractive to Bogdan? Are they attractive to only him? Figures materialize sometimes absurdly, like semi-answers. Bogdan works on them slowly and gently, so not to scare the Idea and not to insult it with mistakes of editing in the powerful, but tricky Photoshop - a program that does not coexist with laziness and bad taste. Going by sketches of his creativity, life experience or dreams, Zwir dresses up the future masterpiece in layered exquisite gown, in which everything works for the Idea - proportions of the forms, play of light and shadows, unity of color and texture. His works can call for admiration or disgust, make to think or hit someone on the head with their boldness, dominate or induce a desire to never see them again. Someone could love or hate Bogdan's pictures, but it is impossible to stay indifferent. Just as impossible not to notice a tall standing man, when the world around is shaking. A man that will not bow to old customs and will remain independent in his views. A man that will not back up in front of difficult questions and will not try to avoid to answer them. A man that possess a unique individuality and does not give in under a pressure of hard critique. 

The fans and the enemies, all alike, will be watching Bogdan. All of them are drawn by something that is impossible to fully comprehend. By something that calls for a protest of conceited human mind, that is unable to give a rational explanation to everything..

Writer - Marina Danina

Art translation - Maria Candler

© All of the images on this website are copyrighted original artworks by their author and are protected by international copyright law. No materials in this gallery may be reproduced, copied, downloaded, or used in any form without written permission of the contemporary artist Bogdan Zwir.
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