Konstantin Bessmertny

Deity of Doubt

Hong Kong28 May – 09 Jul 2016
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  • Rossi & Rossi is pleased to announce Deity of Doubt, an exhibition of new works by Russian-born, Macau and Hong Kong–based artist Konstantin Bessmertny. Featuring paintings and sculptures, the works are inspired by the cards of the major and minor tarot arcana.

    The title of the exhibition, Deity of Doubt, references Descartes’s dubito, ergo cogito, ergo sum (‘I doubt, therefore I think, therefore I am’) and examines the confluence of the spiritual and the traditional with the contemporary and the secular in modern society. In these works, the tarot deck is a vehicle in which Bessmertny can—through the use of religious symbolism, the occult and semiotics, and by referencing art history, literature and high and low culture—create intellectually playful, sometimes absurd, works of art that explore the hypocrisies and idiosyncrasies of contemporary and popular culture.

    The painting The High Priestess (2016) is based on the controversial tarot card of the same name, which is sometimes referred to as ‘the Popess card’. The card itself is believed to reference Pope Joan, who, according to a popular medieval legend, disguised herself as a man and rose through the church hierarchy, eventually being elected as pope. In this work, the so-called ‘Popess’ is depicted enthroned and wearing the papal tiara along with other papal vestments. While historians largely agree that Pope Joan did not exist, there are some who still believe that there was a female pope, and that there was a subsequent cover-up by the Catholic Church. Surrounding the central figure are the phrases ‘white collar conspiracy’, ‘blue collar conspiracy’ and ‘redneck conspiracy’, as well as references to Freemason symbolism, including the Eye of Providence and the Boaz and Jachin pillars, which stood at the entrance to Solomon’s Temple (incidentally, also an iconographic feature of the High Priestess card in some tarot decks). According to Bessmertny, it is an interesting legend that draws to mind many recent firsts, such as the first black US president, and potentially the first female US president. These accomplishments were not without their own conspiracy theories.

    Jack of Diamonds (Left Is Right) (2015) and Jack of Hearts (Right Is Wrong) (2015) are two of a number of sculptural works created by the artist. Comprised of boxing gloves cast in bronze, a new medium for the artist, the works are reminiscent of the gloves worn by Charlie Chaplin during a boxing match in the film City Lights (1931), which was arguably the peak in the actor’s career (before controversy surrounding his left-leaning political views found him increasingly out of favour with the American public). Through these works and the phrases in their titles, ‘left is right’, ‘right is wrong’, Bessmertny comments on the ever-changing political landscape that allows for political leanings to be viewed as ‘trends’: “it was cool and progressive to be a leftist in the early twentieth century; Hollywood writers and intellectuals were all left leaning back then, and left was considered ‘right’ until the time came for the right, and the left of Russia became wrong”. The works are a commentary on the use of simplistic dichotomies in political discourse: right vs. left, good vs. bad, East vs. West.

    The exhibition will be accompanied by a limited-edition deck of tarot cards illustrating each work.

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    • Konstantin Bessmertny
      The Fool

      Oil on canvas
      45.5 x 35.5 cm (18 x 14 in)

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    • Konstantin Bessmertny
      The Magician

      2016
      Oil on woodboard
      34.5 x 27 cm (13 ½ x 10 ¾ in)

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    • Konstantin Bessmertny
      The High Priestess

      2016
      Oil on woodboard
      30 x 20 cm (11 ¾ x 7 ¾ in)

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    • Konstantin Bessmertny
      The Empress (Black Rose)

      2016
      Oil on canvas
      12 cm (4 ¾ in) (diameter)

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    • Konstantin Bessmertny
      The Emperor

      2015
      Found, readymade and recycled object
      35 x 23 x 16 cm (13 ¾ x 9 x 6 ¼ in)

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    • The Hierophant (Washington as a Freemason)
      Washington as a Freemason

      Oil on woodboard
      30 x 20 cm (11 ¾ x 7 ¾ in)

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    • Konstantin Bessmertny
      The Lovers (Gli Amanti Il Braghettone)

      2016
      Oil on canvas
      42 x 37 cm (16 ½ x 14 ½ in)

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    • Konstantin Bessmertny
      The Chariot

      2016
      Oil on woodboard
      29 x 14.4 cm (11 ½ x 5 ¾ in )

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    • Konstantin Bessmertny
      Strength (Abstain from Violence, Attain Nirvana)

      2016
      Oil on woodboard
      35 x 57 cm (13 ¾ x 22 ½ in)

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    • Konstantin Bessmertny
      The Hermit (5th Reason in Proof of the Existence of God)

      2016
      Oil on Panel
      34 x 27 cm (13 ½ x 10 ½ in)

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    • Konstantin Bessmertny
      The Wheel of Fortune

      Oil on wood board
      34.5 x 25.8 cm (13 ¼ x 10 in)

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    • Konstantin Bessmertny
      Justice (Gilty / Not Guilty)

      2016
      Oil on woodboard
      42 x 37 cm (16 ½ x 14 ½ in)

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    • Konstantin Bessmertny
      The Hanged Man (The Hanged Man of Acupuncture)

      2016
      Oil on woodboard
      30 x 18 cm (11 ¾ x 7 in)

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    • Konstantin Bessmertny
      Death (ou La Mort)

      2016
      Oil on woodboard
      30 x 22.5 cm (11 ¾ x 8 ¾ in)

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    • Konstantin Bessmertny
      Temperance (More than 80 Years Together)

      2016
      Found, readymade and recycled object
      57 x 8 x 8 cm ( 22 ½ x 3 x 3 in)

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    • Konstantin Bessmertny
      The Devil

      Oil on woodboard
      30 x 20 cm (11 ¾ x 7 ¾ in)

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    • Konstantin Bessmertny
      The Tower (16)

      Oil on woodboard
      35 x 21 cm (13 ¾ x 8 ¼ in)

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    • Konstantin Bessmertny
      The star (La Estrella)

      2016
      Oil on Woodboard
      34 x 25.5 cm (13 ¼ x 10 in)

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    • Konstantin Bessmertny
      The Moon

      2016
      Oil on Woodboard
      34.5 x 27 cm (13 ½ x 10 ½ in)

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    • Konstantin Bessmertny
      The Sun (Ganesha)

      2016
      Oil on woodboard
      30 x 17 cm (11 ¾ x 7 in)

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    • Konstantin Bessmertny
      Judgement (The Last Trump)

      2016
      Found, readymade and recycled object
      56 x 15 cm (22 x 6 in)

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    • Konstantin Bessmertny
      The World

      2016
      Oil on violin
      32 x 19 cm (12 ½ x 7 ½ in)

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    • Konstantin Bessmertny
      Ace of Diamonds (Monument to 8th International (after Tatlin))

      2015
      Found, readymade and recycled object
      27 x 14 x 12 cm (10 ½ x 5 ½ x 4 ¾ in)

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    • Konstantin Bessmertny
      Jack of Diamonds (Left is Right)

      2015
      Bronze
      27 x 18 x 11 cm (10 ½ x 7 x 4 ¼ in)

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    • Konstantin Bessmertny
      Knight of Diamonds (Women of Napoleon)

      2011
      Low temperature glaze on white ceramics
      41 x 4.5 cm (16 x 1 ¾ in)

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    • Konstantin Bessmertny
      Queen of Diamonds (Girls Rule!)

      2013
      Oil and cheap jewelery on canvas
      68 x 62 cm (26 ¾ x 24 ½ in)

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    • Konstantin Bessmertny
      King of Diamonds (Clementine in Bali)

      2014
      Oil on canvas
      17 x 15 cm (7 x 6 in)

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    • Konstantin Bessmertny
      Ace of Clubs (Propter Libidinem (Because of Lust)

      2014
      Oil on woodboard
      12.5 cm (diameter)

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    • Konstantin Bessmertny
      Jack of Clubs (Principle of sufficient reasoning illustrated N1)

      Oil on woodboard
      17.7 x 13 cm (7 x 5 in)

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    • Konstantin Bessmertny
      Knight of Clubs (Knights of Coins)

      2016
      Oil on woodboard
      30 x 20 cm (11 ¾ x 7 ¾ in)

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    • Konstantin Bessmertny
      Queen of Clubs (Nu) 2016

      20160
      Oil on woodboard
      28 x 27 cm (11 x 10 ½ in)

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    • Konstantin Bessmertny
      King of Clubs (Portrait of the Governor of Casino Republic)

      2015
      Oil on canvas
      55 x 45 cm (21 ½ x 17 ¾ in)

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    • Konstantin Bessmertny
      Ace of Hearts (Napoleon on Elba)

      2016
      Oil on canvas
      42 x 10 cm (16 ½ x 4 in)

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    • Konstantin Bessmertny
      Jack of Hearts (Right is Wrong)

      2015
      Bronze
      29 x 20 x 11 cm (11 ½ x 7 ¾ x 4 ¼ in)

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    • Konstantin Bessmertny
      Knight of Hearts (Amour Forever)

      2016
      Found, readymade and recycled object
      35 x 9 x 9 cm (13 ¾ x 3 ½ x 3 ½ in)

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    • Konstantin Bessmertny
      Queen of Hearts (French Connections)

      2015
      Found, readymade and recycled object
      35 x 70 x 44 cm (13 ¾ x 27 ½ x 17 ¼ in)

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    • Konstantin Bessmertny
      King of Hearts (Mahler N6)

      2015
      Bronze
      49 x 31 x 29 cm (19 ¼ x 12 ¼ x 11 ½ in)

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    • Konstantin Bessmertny
      Ace of Spades (three litres of water from Yangtze Riber and three cubic decimeter of Beijing air)

      2016
      Found, readymade and recycled object
      29 x 25 x 13 cm (11 ½ x 9 ¾ x 5 in)

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    • Konstantin Bessmertny
      Jack of Spades (Accuser)

      Oil on woodboard
      19.5 x 13.5 cm (7 ¾ x 5 ¼ in)

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    • Konstantin Bessmertny
      Knight of Spades (Atarvaveda)

      2016
      Found, readymade and recycled object
      20 x 47 x 14 cm (7 ¾ x 18 ½ x 5 ½ in)

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    • Konstantin Bessmertny
      Queen of Spades (Provocatio ad Populum)

      2014
      Oil on Birkin bag
      24 x 39 x 20 cm (9 ½ x 15 ¼ x 7 ¾ in)

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    • Konstantin Bessmertny
      King of Spades (ping pong before swimming, swimming before breakfast)

      2015
      Oil on woodboard
      18 x 13 cm (7 x 5 in)

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