Artagon IV – or what I call Eastern Promises

The 4th edition of the international exhibition of art students was presented this year at the Magasins Généraux in Pantin. This time, the committee decided to put under the spotlight young creators from the eastern scene, an art scene resurrecting from the dead.

More and more, and after the frenzy caused by Asian art, eastern countries like Russia, Latvia, Poland, Belarus, Ukraine, are attracting the attention of collectors, contemporary art players as well as art enthusiasts. Throughout the exhibition, I was amazed to discover that an important number of the artists presented chose video game art or its aesthetics. I’ll focus on this artists as I particularly enjoyed their work.


Michal Soja, Ladies & Gentleman, 2018


Our generation was the first one that grew up with siblings enticing us to play the latest versions of James Bond, Call of Duty or Super Smash Bros. Probably this is one of the reasons why so many art students are now borrowing the aesthetics of GTA in their art. But I think that it goes further than pure nostalgia as the stories in video games like GTA were often populated by mercyless outlaws that lived in dystopian societies where chaos reigned. Michal Soja’s artwork Ladies and Gentleman, is a video installation showing a zombie worker under a waterfall. In his condition as both a zombie and a miner, the character is condemned to be undead, aliev to feed the economic system as well as it’s forever lasting slave.

Another artist investigating video game art is Stefanie Schwarzwimmer with her work The Quest in which a helicopter circles a quiet neighborhood, seemingly looking for someone. The pilot in the helicopter keeps reporting her findings even if we don’t see any abnormal activity, we then understand that the helicopter is trapped in a loop. This piece is a reminder of the state of surveillance we live in with social media applications such as Facebook or Whatsapp selling our personal information to the government, or the increasing number of cameras and devices installed in China to keep track of the citizen’s activities, even if there is absolutely nothing to report. 


Stefanie Schwarzwimmer, The Quest, 2018


In both cases, the aesthetics eases the approach creating a dialogue with the spectator, one that is more intimate. In another way, the French artist Jean Claracq uses the video game motif – taking inspiration from the video game The Sims – to speak about loneliness in our time. His paintings show people alone, connected through social media but isolated from the world that surrounds them, in his canvases everything is linear but the space is built so as to enhance the feeling of emptiness. Architecture and perspective are crucial, views from the top or tilted help the spectator to see inside the buildings, we peep through windows and rediscover consequences of social media and their impact in our lives. 


Jean Claracq, 2018


Fantasy helps to alleviate the emotional charge contained in the chosen subjects, it works as demarcation line between reality and fiction and raises the question of the interaction between humans and machines nowadays.



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