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Indepth Arts News:

"Masha Shubina ...my dear curator..."
2006-03-09 until 2006-04-01
Matthew Bown Gallery
London, , UK United Kingdom

Masha Shubina is a young Ukrainian artist whose paintings and web-pages, on show at Matthew Bown Gallery, London, from 9 March, use internet dating sites to explore the gulf between traditional art practice and modern technology. Shubina photographs herself in a variety of poses and contexts: standing/lying, alone/with a friend, overdressed/underdressed, straight or with surreal additions. She uses the photographs as the source imagery to make paintings. These paintings she then digitises and exhibits on dating sites on the internet.

Shubina's dating project is unusual. Her web ads set out to make the acquaintance not of new friends or lovers but, specifically, of a curator who might advance her career as an artist. The responses to this appeal are many and varied.

The paintings themselves are not photo-realistic, but they are close enough to the photographic source for small versions to be taken for photographs and for surfers to respond to them as such. What takes place, essentially, is a game with popular notions of unmediated 'reality' (represented by the snapshot) and of 'art' (the painting). The images can pass as casual snaps of a young woman looking to make contacts (they evoke the grungy-yet-self-glamourising imagery that fills the virtual meat-market of sites such as myspace.com) but they are in fact meditated and hand-crafted objects in oil on canvas destined for the gallery space.

Implicit in Shubina‚s procedures is the endless evolutionary potential of the image, which metamorphoses from digital snap to print to painting to virtual internet image to ink-jet-on-paper, each iteration or incarnation having its own specific role and authenticity.

It is frequently suggested that the decisive influence on art in the 21st century will be global communications. On the other hand, no-one expects the traditional media - painting for example - to disappear. In the work of Masha Shubina the disparity between these two modes of intercourse - the one instant/virtual, the other leisurely/physical - provokes a to-ing and fro-ing - in a sense, a series of negotiations. The outcome is a hybrid art, encompassing both the conventional object-in-space within the gallery and the virtual world of the internet and telecommunications.

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