The title is a definition of peep show. A peep-show commonly means that there is a door viewer, a viewing slot, or a keyhole that opens after someone drops a coin into the money box. Various scenes can be demonstrated through the slot; more often than not, they are racy, erotic images.
This is how the well-known term peep-show is explained. Most often, “pip-
show ”denotes a peephole, slot, keyhole, which opens when the viewer flips a coin. Through the gap you can peep scenes, mostly of a piquant erotic nature. I am sure that the hidden eroticism, the vexation of the voyeur determines the special delicacy of the viewer’s communication with the new series of the artist Anton Kuznetsov “Natural History”. A series of 14 paintings shows scenes in the interiors of Soviet Khrushchev houses. The rooms seem to have been abandoned by their previous owners. The wallpaper is often ripped off, paint peels off, things are chaotically shifted. A Christmas tree with a lit garland lies on the floor. Chandeliers fell to the floor. Antique suitcases are lining up pyramids. Trophy heads of stuffed deer or elk strangely cling to various objects of the disturbed comfort of the Soviet thaw.
However, life in these rooms of small apartments continues.
The inhabitants of different ages remind the heroes of the Soviet information stands about the rules of conduct in the hotel complex. They are deliberately impersonal, devoid of individuality, stereotyped. Girls in negligee stretch on beds or play with a dog. An elderly couple stands near a giant suitcase and seems to be asking the price of buying an apartment. Another couple waltzes somewhere in the doorway. Looking like a clerk, modern Akaki Akakievich, a bald uncle in a suit selflessly clung to the keyhole.
He has his own peep show.
In each picture, emotion is created by some kind of Kharms-Kabakov absurdity. A banal picture is constantly discredited by the presence of illogical, fantastic elements in it. Above the cleaning lady who carries a rag near the bust of Lenin on a stepladder, for some reason a halo glows (“Interior with an unknown saint”). A barefoot woman in a dressing gown is standing on a chair in front of a giant pile of bricks, who knows how they have taken up in the cramped room of a block house. The walls converging in a diagonal perspective in several paintings (“Caput mortuum”) are pasted over with giant photo wallpapers with romantic or itinerant landscapes: valleys, rivers, mountains, thickets and oak groves … These wallpapers do not expand the space, but make it ghostly, phantasmagoric.
It is then that we grope for the hidden spring of hypnotically languid, even erotic pleasure from contemplating the images of Anton Kuznetsov.
The mise-en-scenes in small-sized Khrushchev buildings present us with the ruins of the dreams of small people in a big country, which is indifferent to these people. Native nature, a tree in the lights, hunting trophies, tangos and a suitcase mood, the temptation to travel – all these are understandable and simple-minded aspirations of people who yearn for freedom in an unfree claustrophobic country. It is awkward to peep behind these awkward dream ruins. And yet it’s nice.
Involvement, lively participation is born thanks to the quality of the painting itself. In the National Gallery of London, in the 17th-century Small Dutch Hall, there is a magic box. This is a peep-show by the Dutch master Samuel van Hoogstraten “Interiors of a Dutch House” (1655-1660). Inside the box are perspective projections of the rooms of the Dutch house in optical distortion.
The image is collected if the viewer clings to one of the two glass eyes located at the ends of the box. Then a stereoscopic effect is obtained. Actually, getting the effect of a tactile illusion for the eyes traveling through sunlit interiors was the know-how of Dutch Baroque painting. The phenomenal development of perspective, spatial gratings and corridors, complemented by a filigree painting technique, light and color nuances, guaranteed admiration for participating in the process of gradual movement into precious enfilades.
It can be said that the peep-show effect of Dutch interior painting was an anticipation of cinematic montage.
It is with such codes that Anton Kuznetsov subtly works. He achieves the unity of the color of ocher tones, whose noble structure reminds him
and to us the timbre of the sound of the cello. He creates a network of complex promising corridors that become a captivating eye catcher. The artist parodies the jewelry qualities of the old-school painting substance, and he himself falls in love with them. He also falls in love with us, the audience, forcing us to sympathize with the “natural history” of the existence of thaw panels.