Presentation of Mikhail Dobrovolsky’s project for the Vyksa Artist-in-Residence programme
Mikhail Dobrovolsky's art research revolves around the everyday life and behaviour of people in urban environments as well as socially deprived areas and unfriendly and sometimes aggressive situations. The artist employs photography, video footage, and sound to document his observations. All the collected material is reassembled, and characters and conflict are developed and subsequently transferred onto a canvas. Dobrovolsky's empathy and absurdist irony balance out the intensity of the social drama he observes.

The Vyksa project is the artist's reflection on his experience and the result of his observations during his residency represented in a form of a total installation.

'[During my stay in Vyksa,] I wanted to observe people and create a series of paintings as well as reevaluate my approach in general and make it more subtle. I believe I was successful. We'll see it at the upcoming exhibition. [...]' Dobrovolsky describes his idea. 'I'd like to show relative calmness slowly transitioning into apathy and anxiety I felt here. The changing tone of the exhibition is set to confuse the audience and convey the ambiguity of my experience. Anxiety has become everyone's permanent companion now, but after being left on my own, I felt it more distinctly. Crossing the borders of unfamiliar settlements, I feel as if I am disengaging from everything [...] and look at it from an unusual angle.'

The exhibition also suggests that its visitors change their perspective, rise above the mundane and have a bird's-eye view, from a vantage point that is unusual for people watching. The characters are not in the sky or above it but in a different dimension – an airless space that mystifies and complicates the viewing of the display while at the same time granting an opportunity to unravel this absurd and confusing tangle.

The installation comprises a series of paintings depicting the Vyksa skies numbered 1 to 9 and an individual artwork portraying characters, also numbered. The canvases are placed on the floor and grouped into 4 'islands' according to the number of ponds in Vyksa. Every canvas has a plaque with a description next to it on the walls.

'These are the names of the characters as well as everyday life situations associated with them that I have observed in Vyksa, but I have made them a bit more absurd. The exhibition also features some audio content. Sound art involves the sound produced by the aeroplanes taking off from Savasleyka air base, the wailing of a siren, the recordings of aircraft crew announcements and pre-takeoff briefings, as well as familiar sounds of the street crows cawing, dogs barking, snatches of conversation, and the results of my exploration of the residency's grounds. [...] All this jumbled together creates a hubbub that aims to reflect the emotional part of my experience in Vyksa. The tone of the sound art is rather gloomy. It is an antithesis to the visual part of the exposition,' explains the artist.

Mikhail Dobrovolsky
Mikhail works in various media with an emphasis on paintings, objects and installations. The basis of his artistic practice is the observation of people and introspection.

The artist explores the urban environment, the street space, finding interpersonal conflicts here. These conflicts are the center of attention in his works, the narrative is built around them.

Mikhail was born in Voronezh. He received his higher education at the Voronezh State University of Architecture and Construction.

He has participated in exhibitions: "Through the eyes of a collector" at the international contemporary art fair Cosmoscow, Moscow 2021; blazar young contemporary art fair, Moscow 2021; "I will never come to an exhibition of this artist again", curators Yan Posadsky and Misha Goodwin, gallery "High Five", Voronezh 2020 and others.