Olga Geoghegan and Jean-Jacques Kissling. An insider
and outsider's perception of St. Petersburg.
As a rule, our online gallery only exhibits the paintings and graphic works of artists who are members of the Collection Red group. However, on this occasion exhibition organiser Irina Karatcheva has taken the bold and unusual step of combining painting and photography in one exhibition. The central idea of this exhibition is St. Petersburg and its influence on the work of two artists: Olga Geoghegan a painter from Russia and Jean Jacques Kissling a photographer from Switzerland. Two very different artists who share the same affinity for one city - St. Petersburg. From the age of 11, Olga Geoghegan was educated by some of the greatest art teachers of their generation at the prestigious Leningrad (St. Petersburg) Academy of Art and previously at the special arts school attached to it. At the age of 18, she began a lengthy, formal training in painting and theatrical decoration and then went on to work for a spell at the world famous Mariinsky Theatre. She is very much a Petersburg insider. Her canvases contain a world sustained by its own integrity, with its unique language and reference points. They have a subject that runs through the very marrow of human consciousness, and is as old, and as contemporary as humanity itself. Her subject is exile and its concomitant effects of alienation and dislocation. In this show she presents an internalised sense of St. Petersburg from the perspective of an exile. Her works do not contain any overt depictions of the old Russian capital, but the influence of its cold northern light and unforgiving intellectual discipline can clearly discerned. Olga’s paintings often suggest the loneliness of portraiture with a single person isolated in their own distinct little frame. When painting her family members Olga transmits her love and compassion with an almost unbearable inner intensity. Her graphic works bear the marks of the coldness and detachment of a person brought up in the harsh environment of Russian reality.
The same alienation, loneliness and dislocation can be sensed in JJ Kisslings’s photographs. A Swiss outsider whose up-bringing and experience of the city couldn't have been more different to Olga's. It is almost as if he is indifferent to St. Petersburg's pompous and imperial facade, as if the thick layer of baroque gold leaf applied by Peter and then Catherine, which is usually what immediately enthrals curious foreigner visitors, is not important to this artist. JJ Kissling is attracted to urban buildings, crowded pavements, machines and the sad faces of St. Petersburg's inhabitants. As a result, we get the impression that we are in a city that exists in several dimensions. By using an old French technique, Kissling relaxes the sharpness of his black and white photography with soft watercolour tones and his pictures really resemble old picture postcards. Scenes captured in the recent past look as if they have been taken the beginning of the last century. JJ Kissling has been a regular traveller to St. Petersburg since 1992, and like many other foreigners before him he fell in love with this city and its creative and historic atmosphere. Petersburg with its unique aura instils in the Photographer an entirely new metaphysical energy. The photos in this series do not seek to show us tourist side of Petersburg, but rather attempt to impart to the viewer, a sense that we are all a little lost in the hectic, hurly burly everyday life of this wonderful. A city, which is seen by Kissling as a reflection of a unit of time that is frozen for eternity in his pictures.