Mikhail Dronov. Twenty years later
The forward movement of Dronov took place relatively calmly and smoothly, despite his obvious predilection for irony, grotesque and good humor. Unlike Tugarinov, he is less inclined to meaningful and formal adventures. For example, his "Wise Men" (1998) and one of the last works "Swamp" (2008) are comparable in their compositional structure to Rodin's "Citizens of Calais", especially since the specific belonging to Dronov is not found in any particular era in the heroes. "Fisherman", "Old man with brushwood" or "Old King" is also universal images for all times. And "The Last Day of Pompeii" (1998) plunges the viewer into deep antiquity. Moreover, the sculptor does not resort to any special formal tricks, depicting the folds of clothing frozen in bronze, embracing emptiness instead of the human body, thereby reminding of the tragedy that befell an Italian city covered with volcanic ash.
Despite the noted substantial predilection for eternal themes, Dronov remains our contemporary. To make sure of this, it is enough refer to his famous sculpture, which in the old catalog is called "Winter Funeral", and in the most recent one, published for the exhibition in the gallery "Naschokin's House", – "Saxophonist". A stooped elderly man in wearing a hat with earflaps and felt boots, he holds a musical instrument in his hands, which clearly contradicts his simple appearance. But it is this contrast that is the conscious idea of the sculptor, who seeks to convey the drama, absurdity and everyday life of a stopped moment, seen in our very Russian life, where "Chopin is tormented by labuhi" and no surrealism doesn't seem strange. However, such targeted concreteness is rare in Dronov's art. He is closer to stingy plastic formulas, invariably distinguished by a clear rhythm of forms: "Robin Hood", "Girl on the ball", "Hunter", "Pioneer", "Organ grinder", "Skater"... With all differences in themes and images in these and similar works , individual stylistics and sharpness of observation are clearly discernible, as well as a rare ability to identify an accurate gesture. The rhythmics of "Night Guests" (1987), "Octopus" (1993) and "Swan Lake" (1994) are at all akin to black-and-white slow motion filming, mesmerizing the viewer.
At first glance, such works as "Sausage" (1997), "Weights" (1998), "Ship" (2000), "Bench", "Valenki" (both 2001), "Button" (2002) look apart. But in principle, their appearance is quite logical and it's not just about Mikhail's inherent mild humor. There is a love for a clearly expressed plastic form, for a lapidary style. By the way, Drones do not focus excessively on the latter, constantly returning to what is considered to be a sculptural classic. In particular, "Holy Peter" (2001 – the initial small version and 2008 – the big figure) is a vivid example of such a traditional approach. The powerful monumental figure of the seated apostle is weighted with large folds of long-skirted clothing. But to aggravate the monumentality of Drones, it does not always resort to formal weighting and increasing the size. His miniature "Hippopotamus" (2002), for example, is in no way inferior to any large-scale sculptures of different years. The reason for this is that Dronov has a gravitation to monumentality is not related to the size of things, but to the inner feeling a monumental rhythm. And there is another curious "generic" feature that manifests itself in the art of many artists. It's about the self-portraiture of the portrait genre. "Saint Peter" is, of course, not a self–portrait, but, apparently, not only for the sake of a joke, Drones sat down and took a picture not far from the mighty figure of the apostle in the same pose.
Mikhail Dronov's art gives the impression of thoroughness and calm confidence, when a person can say not only "I am looking for", but "I found it."
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