MIR | Fasten your seat belt

“Always seeing everything clearly is also boring. It's exciting when some things remain blurred." (MIR, 2020)

Have a seat, lean back and "Buckle your seatbelts!", because the plane is cleared for take-off. The Hamburg-based artist MIR loads in OZM HAMMERBROOKLYN with his exhibition Fasten your seat belt to a special journey. Nothing here is what it seems at first glance. This also applies to the title of the exhibition chosen by the artist: because this is not just the English-language aircraft announcement to please buckle up, but also a symbolic message from MIR on the current situation and the measures taken. Through the "psychological buckle up" society is forced to live with restrictions. Sometimes you need a life jacket to keep yourself going, which is also a kind of art. The works of MIR all originated before the spread of the corona virus in Europe and therefore seem like a prophecy for the imminent future.

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The artist has also been interested in flying, space travel and the atmosphere of travel metaphorically for many years. Will the trip be successful? Will we reach the goal? What if we crash? Those are recurring questions MIR in his work and which also run motivically like red threads through the works of the last few years. The exhibition has a high level of symbolism, which can only be understood after intensive study. Fasten your seat belt presents us content from the current social time and facets MIRs personal world of thoughts.

The artist grew up in the USSR and received training at the Art Academy in St. Petersburg in the late 1980s, which enabled him to express himself emotionally and intellectually in painting techniques. During his student days, he was mainly influenced by artists such as Raffael, Leonardo da Vinci and Vincent van Gogh. In addition, the propagandistic art of his country of origin had a slight influence on his artistic beginnings. For MIR being an artist means something holistic that affects being human in society. In addition, self-study was and is essential for him: to achieve something yourself by developing your own way of working in order to accelerate a process of something that is really close to your heart - this is indeed an immensely satisfying experience for him. And so, a few years ago, his very own and individualistic style, which the artist saw from now on Inforealism called the light of the world.
The pictures of MIR appear to be quite clearly legible at first glance. But behind them hides a high degree of complexity. His canvas works are divided into two to three levels: First of all, we have the background of the picture, which is sometimes executed in one color or with colorful shapes. The figures, characters and letters can be seen on the second surface. In some works, however, the characters are also depicted as a third level. MIRs works are accentuated by a large surface area, in which there is no spatial depth, and by extensive, brightly colored fields of color. In the works on canvas there are both clearly recognizable two-dimensional figures, some with individual facial features, as well as a non-representational, constructivist distribution of forms that reveal an influence of Suprematism. Arranged parallel to the viewing plane, many of the pictorial elements are cropped by the bottom edge of the canvas, creating the haunting sense that the motifs are about to “fall” into the exhibition space. The applied colors were mostly executed with thick brushstrokes and in some representations running down color lines can be seen. These were used as a deliberate stylistic device. Almost all representational motifs have a contour line that sets them apart from the background and makes them the focus of the work. Furthermore, the canvas works by MIR striking and some of them were executed using the stencil technique. Especially the letters were applied in this way to the canvases as well as to the wall and the floor.
Another notable feature MIRs works of art are the letters and numbers, which mostly appear static, but also show straightness, clarity and strength. It can be seen that the artist attaches considerable importance to typography – in this context the aesthetic, artistic and functional design of letters is meant. The form and function of writing become one here, because they stimulate and communicate with us. Everyone uses type in their own unique way. The use implies the creative personality, individuality and uniqueness. This can be seen in the characters used, because MIR uses both Cyrillic letters and German. When creating his characters, two aspects are paramount for him: firstly, the aesthetics and the subliminal effect of the individual letter forms, which fit into the composition of the image, and secondly, the messages to be conveyed to the recipient. The forms of the letters used in many of the pictures are reminiscent of the application with a stencil or a stamp. Today, stencil fonts are mainly found in areas that are not about the lettering itself. Rather, one encounters them in avant-garde art or typeface design, usually where innovations are required.
What the second function of MIRWhen it comes to the shapes of the letters, he doesn’t make it easy for the viewer, because in some cases he creates new words. For this he takes z. For example, a German word that does not exist in Russian is written in Cyrillic instead of Latin. He thus alienates the words, which can only be deciphered if the addressees speak both languages. The artist did not take this decision without reason, because he does not want the words to be legible immediately, but rather that the recipients deal with them mentally or let them work on them subconsciously. Provided that the addressees are able to decipher the words, these are always an extension of the understanding of the images. Many of MIRHowever, s works contain secret typographical messages, and since sharing messages is a “business of sharing,” it can be both an asset and a loss for both parties (artist and viewer).
Back to MIRs self-developed style of painting which he named on Inforealism baptized. The term is composed of two words: information and realism. But how are these two terms in the context of MIRs art to interpret? For many years, the artist has been fascinated by illustrated instructions for use and Egyptian art, especially the sculptures and hieroglyphs. In the case of the Egyptian symbols and the pictograms on the instructions for use, he is particularly impressed by the minimalistic and laconic elaboration and the exact reproduction of information. MIRThe motifs presented are also reminiscent of pictograms. They are characterized by flatness, a simplified representation, lack of spatial depth and decoration.
In general, a pictogram is a human-made image for the purpose of quick and clear non-verbal and non-verbal communication to indicate or indicate something. The combination of environment, shape, color as well as symbols and/or icons with a high degree of reduction is important for understanding pictograms. Pictograms never only designate themselves, but convey complex matters and information through visual representations that have to do with the actual sign only in the associated sense. The place where the pictogram is shown plays a special role, because without the appropriate environment it does not receive any applicable statement. Pictograms should bring messages to the point in order to inform, protect, guide and preserve as quickly as possible through decoding. As a result, a high degree of creative discipline is required. Pictograms are also dependent on context, knowledge, society and culture. These points play a major role in whether the message from the sender (artist) is understood by the recipient (recipient). Although we learn to read, understand and use letters over the years, knowledge of symbols is taken for granted. It is important that the sign repertoire between the sender and recipient matches as closely as possible, because the more signs both know, the greater the degree of communication possibility. Furthermore, there is another crucial point, namely that pictograms should have an international character. This feature cannot yet be found in Egyptian hieroglyphs, for example, which is why they are not declared as pictograms. In the past, pictograms had the sole task of influencing will and knowledge. Today, however, the need for emotional influence is increasing. A development towards experimental and individual pictograms can now be seen. And so they can now stimulate thought or just be fun.
The transfer of information in the work of MIR got introduced. What about aspects of realism in his works? First of all, there is no one-size-fits-all view of reality. Not even when one speaks of “reality” as a visual impression, because every individual has their own perception of what is happening at a certain time and place; for example on a busy street. This is related to the selective perceptual ability, which is influenced by our social situation and many other things. However, this does not exclude that there can be no realism in art. So a representation of reality, because otherwise the existence of an individual in a larger society would not be possible.
In art history there are different approaches that deal with the topic of realism. MIR does not use elements that imitate nature in his pictures, but mostly depicts contemporary and modern reality. In addition, his works document elements of the modern environment of the technical age. In this respect, they present components that are specific to images of realism. The English-speaking art historians, on the other hand, understand under Realism a representational art movement that, like modern art, is documented by art history through a constant change of formal innovations. Thus, realism in its later form is characterized by an ambiguity of interpretation. As a result, it is accessible to a wider social spectrum and there are also references to symbolism. From the 20th century it also becomes clear that there is no longer a common stylistic basis of realism. Within the individual countries, the formal language of realism continued to split up: e.g. B. verism, neorealism and social realism.

MIR takes up realistic aspects in his pictures by using a modern and functional style as well as a new design language that suits our time very well. Through his works on canvas, the artist not only presents us with pictograms – with a symbolic content – ​​that we know from the instructions for use on airplanes and from travel and thus have a connection to reality, but also his own perception of the present day. At first glance, the descriptions of his own impressions are not critical or aimed at reforms in society, as is the case e.g. B. in the art of social realism was the case, but they are definitely thought-provoking and open to different interpretations. This is the case, for example, in the following image.

The title of the picture reads: This is not love, which means "This is not love" in German. was inspired MIR in this work from a Russian song in which this sentence occurs. Here, what is depicted – a woman with a dramatic expression, with the life jacket coming loose, the two symbols rose and dagger – and the work title, which can be seen at the bottom of the picture, go well together. The woman appears to be screaming her sorrow to the world to free herself from the oppressed feelings, while she is clutching a life jacket. Lovesickness is a very strong emotion that many people know from their own experience. In order not to drown in the swamp of melancholy, you need a life jacket in the associative sense, which gives you energy and optimism again. However, the image can also be understood as a metaphor of a person in a plane crash over the water. The life jacket could perhaps save them from sinking. In this image example, the complexity of MIRs works, which is characteristic of his art.

MIR has throughout his artistic career, similar to Kasimir S. Malevich, with his concept of Suprematism, developed his own and individual style of painting Inforealism, developed. To do this, he uses forms of design that have the essential attributes of pictograms and convey complex themes that lead to associations in the viewer and encourage us to deal with them. 

MIR takes an artistic approach to the pictograms, which in terms of style are not reminiscent of a classic design. But he is also an artist and not a graphic artist or designer. Admittedly, the environment is unusual if one assumes the attachment of classic pictograms, but since it is also a matter of presenting works of art, the place of attachment fits again. In addition, the artist has left us clearly recognizable representations on the walls and floor that clearly indicate the inside of an airplane. A simple and quick reading of the motifs is also possible, even if not all possible interpretations are exhausted. In addition, life jackets and masks have the characteristic of internationality, because they are clearly recognizable signs of protection and safety all over the world. The requirements placed on pictograms are MIRs works of art by conveying not only technical but also psychological information about his pictorial motifs.

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MIRs works fit very well into today's fast-moving and fast-moving times, because you can quickly absorb what is shown due to the simplified and factual style. In addition, the typography can be read quite quickly if you are able to understand Russian. For the artist, what is hidden and mysterious in art is important. In the best case, his works slow the recipient down for a moment and let them linger in front of his pictures for a certain amount of time. Only when you do this and are willing to engage contemplatively with his art can the riddles and messages be deciphered by him. This is not always easy with today's flood of images, but it is very worthwhile to deal with it. Especially when we appreciate the depth and magic that MIRs inherent in art, want to understand to some extent.

Are we still buzzing in the air with the plane, did it land safely or did we crash? There are no definite answers and that's what Fasten your seat belt so incredibly exciting and interesting.

sources
Rayan Abdullah/Roger Huebner: Pictograms and Icons. Duty or freestyle?, Mainz 2005.
Tino Grass: design font. About writing and design, Zurich 2008.
Boris Rohrl: Realism in the visual arts. Europe and North America 1830 to 2000, Berlin 2013.
Patrick Roessler: NEW TYPOGRAPHIES. Bauhaus & more: 100 years of functional graphic design in Germany, Goettingen 2018.