Gosha Ostretsov — Heavy Patients


Installation, painting

Gosha Ostretsov
Heavy Patients

Past: September 4 → October 30, 2010

In the Fall of 2007, Gosha Ostretsov turned the Rabouan-Moussion Gallery into a Beauty Salon reminiscent of the Soviet era.

Three years later, the Muscovite artist is back with a new proposition: a common room in a hypothetical clinic reserved for heavy patients. The long historical chapter of a generation born in the Brezhnev era is now closed. This new project attempts to exorcise the pregnant memories of a still present past. The freed space has now given way to an astonishing dormitory for « serious cases ». The dread of bodies confined to bed replaces the misfortune of beauty, generating the same confused agitation as a visit to a convalescent in a hospital.

Three strange hospital beds have been built directly on site by Ostretsov. Furthermore, they surely maintain a remote kinship with the bed where Grégoire Samsa was found one morning, metamorphosed into an infamous and monstrous insect, whose back was as hard as a heavy carapace.

One discovers these beds flanked by obscure exhaust pipes and dominated by gallows from which hang some frightening organic nebulae. They have settled in like unsteady rafts carrying the weight of three foreign bodies: a railroad track, a nautical anchor, and a mechanical prosthesis, which have been literally put there, laid down, confined to bed and tucked between bolsters and cushions. These three impotent elements, crippled with tubes and sometimes shaken by stiffened movements, may operate either as violently antithetical to the whole artistic installation or, on the contrary, may appear to be at the heart of everything that is presented and represented beyond them.

In the immediate vicinity of these metallic objects, one can recognize the impregnable presence of an anvil corroded with rust. This mass of iron, which is difficult to move and on which metal is pounded, conjures up in the artist’s psyche a symbolic father figure but even more directly a figure of his real father.

One must mention here an important element of the biography of the artist who insisted on expressing it strongly in this lapidary proclamation of the « father-anvil ». Gosha Ostretsov always knew how to strike a balance between gravity and humor, even in the juxtaposition of these two words. One of the drawings shown on the chair rail evokes the figure of the artist’s genitor, the patriarch in complete command of the techniques of fire and forge and who supposedly never acknowledged his natural son, refusing to carry out the primary paternal function, which is to give him a name. Against rusted iron and lead, Ostretsov is left with nothing else to do but capture the real forces in action, without letting anyone stop him. His work no longer needs to proclaim its validity to itself. Because, between hammer and anvil, in the very place where the struggles of life take place, one can flatten, smack, correct, crush, adjust, form, knock and even win back a new rectitude.

However, every heavy patient — who could possibly recover — knows well that there is a thin line between the stance of the sniper and the recumbent body, between supplication and existential debt, buffoonery and anxiety, alienation and relief.

Outside, attached on the front window of the gallery, two gigantic painted eyes overlook and ignore the life of the street. Between these eyeballs, an anvil hangs on a chain. It is behind those staring eyes, that we find that dreadful pulse.

Stéphane Moreaux
Rabouan Moussion Gallery Gallery
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121, rue Vieille-du-Temple

75003 Paris

T. 01 83 56 78 21


Arts et Métiers
Filles du Calvaire
Saint-Sébastien – Froissart

Opening hours

Every day except Sunday, 10 AM – 7 PM

The artist

  • Gosha Ostretsov