DeSantos Gallery Presents: Gregory Maiofis

DeSantos Gallery Presents: Gregory Maiofis

WHAT: Some 40 unique exhibits selected from his most recent series

WHEN: May 21, 2005 – June 25, 2005


Artist’s talk at 6:30pm

Houston–De Santos Gallery presents: Tarot Decks, Fables and The Affirmation of Life. This uniquely exotic show will be presented by Gregory Maiofis. Gregory Maïofis was born in St. Petersburg in 1970, in a family ofclassical artists. His grandparents were both architects; his father is a well-known graphic artist and book illustrator. In his last year of high school, Maïofis was trained in traditional techniques and mediums and made classical copies of masters, like Goya and Daumier. He then studied painting at the Repin Academy of Fine Arts in St. Petersburg for two years.Yet imaginary subjects and surrealist flights of fantasy were taking hold of him at this early stage.

It was around 1989 that his real talent as an independent artist and thinker began to mature. Already in the United States by 1991, he continued painting in traditional modes but preferred working with antiquated photographic equipment, concentrating on old processes and techniques. His works started being acquired by Museums and galleries in St. Petersburg, and Moscow, by State Galleries in Omsk, Kursk and Penza . A series of works titled “Parables,” made its way from the Gisich Gallery to Slovakia. Finally, the 11 Museum collections in Russia and the Museum of Fine Arts in Houston became interested and acquired quite a few of his works. At the same time he became known in Germany, Italy and France. It is in the United States that his style became more distinct and his issues better defined. Yet the continuity between his early Russian stages and the present work is obvious and it evinces a strong personality and ever more daring subject-matters and more refined treatments thereof. His art is to great extent a fluid mix of photography–gelatin silver prints–toned and subtly colored with hand-painted oils or water colors, some meant to bridge the gaps within the surrealist collages of photographs, while also stamping them with a phantasmagoric aura.

The present show will also include some alternative photo-processes, like the so-called Van Dyck prints. In this show, irony verges on the grotesque and also, here and there, on the explicitly erotic. The abstract juxtaposition of scenes and objects from the most variegated domains of life-and-art are startling. Maïofis ‘s art is surprising, humorous and pleasurable, full of unexpected, sometimes shocking twists and turns. The richness of the iconic vocabulary, from history to cosmogony, the irrepressible humor of it all allows the viewer a wide range of interpretations, from face-value impressions, to symbolisms begging to be deciphered on several levels, to precious combinations proper to both high modernism and postmodernity; all stir up an aesthetic wonderment for the prowess and sophistication of these surrealist collages.

His series “Fables” is inspired by the famous Russian fabulist Ivan Krylov, and resonates both with the universal archetypes of the genre and the Russian national spirit. The “Tarot Decks” are an ironic take, mostly a parody of this particular source of art-making, complete with historical allusions and political criticism, an instance of meditations on fate, expressive and funny at the same time. Finally, “Life is everywhere” appears as a voyage of discovery of the world—both Old and New–in a highly personal language of poetic associations and a wealth of experimental photographic techniques.

Maïofis is inimitable. His newly acquired freedom of shuttling between St. Petersburg and Los Angeles, actually to roam the world, is constantly enriching and diversifying his visual experiences. He is translating them into a continuum of paintings, collages and “realistic” photography, saturated with drama, nostalgia, and futuristic visions. They do now and will not cease to intrigue and attract older and younger viewers alike by their “simple complexity.”