Graduated from the Art and Theatre College, Moscow
1996 Is a member of the International Federation of Artist & national Artist’s Union of Russia
1999 Begins his work in 3D
2007 Wins Art4.ru, competition on the best monument
2007 Starts working in his own style of “art-science”
Lives and works in Moscow
Kawarga is one of the few Russian artists working with high
technologies. His most considerable works are based on science-art
synthesis and are created with scientists and engineers.
MANIFESTO by Dmitry Kawarga – Radical of Biological Morphs
naming myself a biomorph radical I have delineated an imaginary circle
of my creative endeavours and distanced myself from any mainstream art.
like to see myself as an experimental research scientist immersed into
my own experience, as a biological instrument of art capable of bringing
into life unseen psycho-physiological mechanisms, by ‘dragging’ their
three-dimensional projections into reality.
The object of my
study is the area accessible to tuning – consciousness, perception,
thinking process as well as the psycho-physiological arrangement of
other beings, including inanimate objects. I have had special, ‘intimate
and warm’, relationship with art since I was a child. Each new artwork
gradually changes my perception of reality and alters my reaction to
life. These changes, in their turn, transform my priorities in art. I am
curious where this chain of interrelationship will eventually lead me…
to 1999 I mostly painted, but my paintings were getting more textured,
as if they were inflated and swollen, as if the surface of the painting
ceased to be flat and developed reliefs. While a part of the surface
remained to be flat, the other – the textured and raised one - strove to
break free by turning into a three-dimensional sculpture. The moment it
happened with the painting, my own imaginary obstacle was swept away. I
realized that in the same way I could ‘drag out’ into three-dimensional
world not only the images and symbols of visible material world while
staying within the traditional framework of visual art, but also what
lies at the very source of it, what causes it – materialized fragments
of abstract thought forms, stream of consciousness, thinking process,
fragments of perception, reflexes, Gestalt. And these would not
necessarily be sculptures and installations, but peculiar artefacts
extracted through immersion into consciousness and subconscious. My
works are a synthesis of art and science and presuppose a bio-reversible
contact with the beholder, they emit noises of various frequencies,
tremble and react to the human touch and the rhythm of the blood flow.
new series of interactive sculptures is titled ‘Unfulfilled intentions’
and includes amorphous and intentionally uncompleted structures
containing robots inside them. They react to the touch of the beholder’s
palm, to his/her voice, breathing and pulse by shuddering, moving,
pulsing and humming as if being impregnated by each human contact, as if
accumulating information from human bodies. Thus my creations are
inexhaustible and ever changing, they absorb the energy, thoughts and
rhythms of human contact.
The central part of the installation is
equipped with a special device that transforms low audio frequencies
into vibrations of various amplitudes causing resonant vibrations of the
whole installation. It turned out that I exposed my biological
structure by dragging it with hooks and chains and than animated it...
All other sculptures sneaked upon by thin filaments of a vibrating and
animated construction also represent certain materialized metaphysical
processes, part of my own psycho physiological reactions.
installation is an attempt to make communication links material. Not the
global common links where all of us are interwoven and built into, but
the model of it that is crystallized inside each of us. I tried to
realize and examine the „structure“ that allows me to be tuned into
society and be adequate to its demands.
If one comes to think
about it, one can talk about self-determination of a human being in
space and about the sprawl of information links. With the increased
transparency and penetrability of our world, the aura distances contract
as well since the compression of the living space is directly related
to the increased speed of traveling between places. Paul Virilio said
that in epoch of globalization with its increasing pressure of world
time, the risk of an event disappearance becomes the very essence of our
When habitual models of world order are being split
up, our individual consciousness changes too. A human being in a
globalized world is next to impossible to be conceived as an independent
and key figure of the universe. He/she is more likely to be perceived
as a part of media field which is a cellular structure with no centre
and boundaries being constantly compressed socially, politically,
financially and, what is most important, in terms of information, while
an individual escape from it seems to be not feasible.
action of an individual has repercussions along the chain, though this
chain is already under a permanent pressure that causes shock reactions.
This pressure has a global character as if it is inherent in all ties,
structures and human connections.
An individual turns into a minute biological element – a tiny brick or a molecule in superhuman social mechanisms...
By Joel Simpson
Dmitry Kawarga is a visionary in abstract polymer plastic, an extremely malleable medium that allows exquisitely detailed nuance of shape, edge and texture. It is completely white, so that form and shadow are the entire drama (except for his installation, see below). His art seems to be that of molding the rich store of forms generated by turbulent heating and pulling the medium, ending up with frozen (or “crystallized” in his terminology) forms that—if the viewer permits herself to see beyond the chaos—are marvelously expressive.
This article will consider three bodies of Kawarga’s work: Crystallized Thought Forms (2008), The Diffusion ofForm Creation (2009), and A Model of Biomorphic Consciousness (2007). It will become apparent later on why we take them out of chronological order.
Kawarga’s Crystallized Thought Forms first present themselves as frozen flux—white polymer extrusions suspended in space or sitting on clear glass—but there are certain formal recurrences that can us lead to an understanding of Kawarga’s vocabulary in the medium, and ultimately of his themes.
Take #985, for example. The center of gravity is a ponderous mass, like a half-deflated spider’s abdomen, with a smoothly folding surface. This extends by thick extrusion into a kind of proboscis that sports two round enclosed extensions, like folded back antennae. Threads of plastic. like thin streams of pulled taffy, emerge from the central mass, as if shot out like firework streamers, losing their straightness in squashvinelike or smokelike curlicues, the most forward one ending by hold a tiny outline of a cube. If we accept that this is a “thought form,” we can make a number of humorous inferences concerning Kawarga’s insights into human cognitive products. The center is an emotional mass, easily imagined to be expanding, contracting, morphing (but “crystallized” for now into immobility) into an endless series of undifferentiated random shapes, held together by forces akin to the mental counterparts of gravity, inertia and molecular cohesion, powered by habit, need, and desire. We catch it in the process of metamorphosing into the beginning of another thought. The streamers are distractions, fleeting velleities, hopeless wishes that burst out from the center and mostly fizzle out in the surrounding space. The little box outline is a small gestures of logic—appendages, afterthoughts to the main mass.
Armed with such a gloss, the more complex #292 appears to be a large-scale thought-action, possibly a conflict between two or more thought-originators in verbal combat or trying to solve a problem from different perspectives. Denuded of their human bearers, who normally clothe their thoughts in decorous physical appearance and gestures of politeness (“Speech was given to man to disguise his thought”—Talleyrand), the thoughts by themselves appear quite monstrous, vaguely evoking dinosaurs, primitive fish, foetuses. As in #985, the central masses project smaller masses (“thought development”) as well as thin streamers. Here, however, there are many more outlines of cubes, and they are much larger. Some are bent. We can imagine that the contentious dialogue among these thinking entities invokes logic when appropriate, but it is just a tool and often distorted.
Number 498 uses these same tropes, but there is a ragged hole in the middle of the central mass and what seem to be more and shorter projecting threads. The thinking entity has apparently just experienced a devastating rejection or refutation. The distractions are apparently more numerous but more futile.
Elsewhere in this body of work, Kawarga seems to explore more extreme forms of thought. Sometimes the weighty emotional mass is absent, and all there is, is a twisted vertical cling-structure, with solid cube “roots” (a cute visual pun), and a flowering top with rows of button-like nubs (#979). I could see the thought form a true believer, a zealot, whose position is rooted logic, grows through narrow, anxious focus upon itself, and flowers in a repugnant blossom. Or what about #111, which extends like a reptilian jawbone with sharp but bent teeth, while the “head” is an interlacing of mostly thick doughy snakes culminating in a miniature abstract of the skull of a hammerhead shark? One senses that this piece describes intense, vengeful anger.
After working on this series for about a year, Kawarga was well equipped to represent a subject as large as the Financial Crisis as one of his thought forms. His version of it seems perfectly clear. The main mass is collapsed and folded onto itself, forming an off-balance “S” with multi-form detritus on top and bottom, that includes rings, bars and projecting prickles, with a frozen drip vaguely resembling a human figure hung by the feet, extending from the back of the top curve down towards the end of the lower upsweep—a picture of structural collapse and its dire effects on the Investor. Then projecting out from this structure is a crowd of cube outlines, surmounted by two large solid cubes and intercalated with a few smaller solid ones. The “S” structure to one side is the loss, the pain, the bankrupt investment houses, the vaporized savings, loss of wealth and collapsed social class and non-profit organization—all at the mercy of a breaking wave of empty value. The cubes, once again, are the arguments, the principles, the logic on which the unstable structure was built, now revealed to be overwhelmingly empty, with a few floating exceptions.
This last piece confirms Kawarga’s mastery of the visual language of his polymers. In a second body of work in the same medium, Diffusion of Form Creation, he takes it a step farther, unconstrained by the limits of his imagined topography of thought. Here Kawarga creates more convoluted and sometimes larger scale forms, using the shapes, twists, extrusions, snakes and cubes he had developed in his prior work. Thought, after all, may be physically formless, but it has its own emotional coherence generated by a virtual human subject. The works in his Diffusion of Form Creation series, however, begin to adumbrate a much more diversely formed natural world, the world that is outside the human mind.
The first one on display from this series seems to present a screen surmounting a row of grotesque plants. Roots or succulents, their identity is left ambiguous, but their inhospitable muscularity is clear. The screen above them appears to be the water surface of a pond, whose milky liquid contains arthropod bodies, some of which poke up above the surface, in two cases in series of decreasing size. We see things resembling segmented curved abdomens, ruined wings, jointed insect feet, and strange body extensions. Kawarga is not trying to be literal, but he evokes the pond as metaphor for a self-contained ecosystem on three levels: under water, above water, and outside the range of the water (the “plants”). Grotesque growth has been followed by death and decay—not that dissimilar from the economic meltdown.
The succeeding works in this series take the viewer into bizarre realms of plasticity well beyond those of theThought Forms. Their elements include lines, braided twists, lipped tubes, bands, belts, clawlike fingers, rods, cube skeletons, apparent references to plant stems, sheathes, insect legs, intestines and other internal organs. Each sculpture is suspended on a meat hook, so floats in space, dramatizing its “rawness,” which here stands for Kawarga’s unmediated vision. Kawarga calls himself a “radical of biological morphs,” but this designation only conveys the nature of his sculptural language and does not hint at their power.
The sculptures themselves, without requiring the viewer to analyze them, heave their meanings at us, and we may recoil from their ferocity, abstract though they are. Their biomorphic vocabulary grabs us in those places where we store our emotional connections to bodily and natural forms, including some very deep, intuitive places; then they twist and combine them in radical and violent ways, to convey their savage warnings. His grotesque creations seem to be saying that we have betrayed our natural environment and our biological nature.
But Kawarga does offer some hope. His installation A Model of Biomorphic Consciousness, completed in 2007, precedes his other two bodies of work discussed above, but it offers an indirect affirmation of the possibility of connection with natural things outside ourselves, wherein may lie our redemption. It proposes no less than the exercise of empathy with an awareness that is entirely Other, entirely outside ourselves, that of a humble land snail. On a deeper level it connects us to our purely natural, pre-verbal origins.
Visually, the installation consists of a series of black boxes, open at one end mount on poles at different heights, steadied with guy wires, with smaller boxes acting as counter-weights. Polymer ascendants twist and tease out tendrils, resembling ginseng roots and brain cells, while heaps of the plastic suggest moribund arthropods, and a petrified octopus. It’s extensively interactive. As the viewer looks inside the various boxes and touches sensors, her pulse, breath, emotional excitement level, hand temperature among other vital signs are registered and communicated to the virtual snails through the conditions of their “habitat”: temperature, level of light, physical vibrations, and the frequency and intensity of faint electric currents. The snails react by speeding up or slowing down, by hiding in their shells and altering their muscle tension. Microphones and video cameras record the reactions of the snails inside the sculptures, which the spectator observes, and which in tern may provoke changes in the physical state of the spectator, which then, following the loop, are fed back to the environment of snails, and so forth.
Kawarga has thus permitted human spectators and virtual mollusks to interact in an intersubjective cybernetic system, harnessing each one’s “otherness” to each other at a reflexive, that is, involuntary level. It is an intensified, magnified demonstration of what happens at every moment between humans and the natural world that supports us, though most of us prefer to remain unaware. But it is also the implicit reply—if not a solution—to the conundrum posed by his later work, a 21st Century version of Voltaire’s injunction to cultivate one’s garden. We are creatures of nature. If we attune ourselves to our interdependence on the planet and all its systems which gave us our existence, and reign in our humanocentric, dominating attitudes (and the heedless greed of a very few) we can prosper. If not, we all perish.
Joel Simpson holds a Ph. D. in comparative literature from Brown University and a Master of Music from Loyola University in New Orleans. He has variously taught English, French Italian, and jazz history at a number of universities, including Tulane, the University of New Orleans, Montclair State University, Drew University, Columbia and Fordham. Currently he writes art reviews for several publications and practices fine art photography, with recent shows in New York, Paris, and Tours, France. He is the creator of Dick Hyman’s Century of Jazz Piano CD-ROM (1999). His photographic work may be seen at
www.barbarian-art.com and www.joelsimpsonart.com
My installation is an attempt to make communication links material. Not the global common links where all of us are interwoven and built into, but the model of it that is crystallized inside each of us. I tried to realize and examine the „structure“ that allows me to be tuned into society and be adequate to its demands. The central part of the installation is equipped with a special device that transforms low audio frequencies into vibrations of various amplitudes causing resonant vibrations of the whole installation. It turned out that I exposed my biological structure by dragging it with hooks and chains and than animated it... All other sculptures sneaked upon by thin filaments of a vibrating and animated construction also represent certain materialized metaphysical processes, part of my own psycho physiological reactions. If one comes to think about it, one can talk about self-determination of a human being in space and about the sprawl of information links . With the increased transparency and penetrability of our world, the aura distances contract as well since the compression of the living space is directly related to the increased speed of traveling between places. Paul Virilio said that in epoch of globalization with its increasing pressure of world time, the risk of an event disappearance becomes the very essence of our history. When habitual models of world order are being split up, our individual consciousness changes too. A human being in a globalized world is next to impossible to be conceived as an independent and key figure of the universe. He/she is more likely to be perceived as a part of media field which is a cellular structure with no centre and boundaries being constantly compressed socially, politically, financially and, what is most important, in terms of information, while an individual escape from it seems to be not feasible. Any action of an individual has repercussions along the chain, though this chain is already under a permanent pressure that causes shock reactions. This pressure has a global character as if it is inherent in all ties, structures and human connections. An individual turns into a minute biological element – a tiny brick or a molecule in superhuman social mechanisms...
"Rewriting Worlds: Dada Moscow" Special project of 4 Moscow Biennale of contemporary art Curator: Adrian Notz, Cabaret Voltaire Zurich Organizers: Cabaret Voltaire, Zurich, Triumph Gallery, Moscow & Barbarian Art Gallery, Zurich One needs to go on a run-simulator to start up «a social mechanism». On the one hand - one feels himself as the God and on the other hand he is only figure among the others. The consciousness of visitors is bisecting - is the society absorbs each of us? Or we ourselves form this enslaving mechanism? If one tells in a microphone the manifesto "DaDa", the voice transfers a low-frequency impulse to the cellular structure, which begins vibration. As a result some of figures fall off, liberated from the structure. One conveyor has a microvideocamera. It shows on a monitor a space inside a black box – in this box is another reality, the world of the artist. "The work of Dmitry Kawarga normally deals a lot with ideas of biomorphism. A term and a small branch in art history that was very much influenced and formed by Hans Arp. Not just remaining in biomorphism, like Arp, Kawarga adds a whole new social and urban dimension to the works, that makes us think of terms like „rhizom“ promoted by the poststructuralists Deleuze and Guattari. For Dada Moscow Kawarga invented a totally new work, which seems to be qutie different to the abstract, biommorph works he normally does. It is an interactive installation that brings up a very powerful sense of the machine and technology fascination the society before the WW1 had and it also show the brutal consequences this fascination had. Kawarga creates a machine that brings the idea of Social Models totally to the absurd." Adrian Notz Materials: PC, run-simulator, conveyer belts, metal, plastic, audio device, subwoofer, microphone, micro video camera, monitor, wood cube.
Sculptures from «Paleo-Geo-Morphology» are artefacts of the human development. Convenience, the cultural «samples of a breed», has been extracted from the thicknesses of civilization. In the section of the object the viewer may see numerous compressed layers of industrial humus, amorphous and constructive form-creations, taking their start from the deep bowels of the earth.
"Model-4" from project "Club 21", One Marylebone, St. Martin‘s Church, London
500õ700õ300 polymer Bayer MaterialSciene, metall, PC, biofeedback device, audio device
Installation represents a design of biomorphic forms, geometrical boxes and plexiglass flasks with fragile sculptures of thought inside. It is attempt to gather a constructor of our consciousness, to reflect on its device and to try to simulate it in space.
Biofeedback device reads off data and reacts to the bio-activity of one’s brain - it detects alpha, beta and gamma waves.
The electric activity of the brain has a compound character. The unique sound pattern (equalizer data) constantly changes.
One should secure the device by pressing the sensor to the forehead skin.
A specially written computer program chooses one of many soundtracks depending on the reading of the device. This way the object reacts to the spectator’s brain bio-activity.
In other words, the sound coming out of the object depends on the thoughts and emotions of the spectator.
At present five main brain activity frequency ranges are distinguished:
- alpha range (8Hz – 13Hz) – relaxation;
- beta range (13Hz – 45Hz) – active functioning;
- gamma range (45Hz – 60Hz) – altered states of consciousness;
- theta range (4Hz – 8Hz) – half-sleep;
- delta range (0.5Hz – 4Hz) – deep sleep.
Selected Solo Exhibitions
2012 Dmitri Kawarga: Paleo-Geo-Morphology, Barbarian Art Gallery, Zurich, Switzerland
2010 Topography of creative evolution (Kulik’s Hair), GriddchinHall, Moscow Area, Russia Ouroboros, Gallery Brissot Art Contemporain, Paris, France
2009 Biostructures, Barbarian Art Gallery, Zurich, Switzerland Coming into the theme, Gallery pop/off/art, Moscow, Russia
2008 Trepanation of the Thought-forms, Gallery pop/off/art, Moscow, Russia
2007 Trepanation of the Thought-forms, Gallery pop/off/art, Moscow, Russia
2007-2008 “Photocompressing” Business House “Mohovaja, 7”, Moscow, Russia
2005 Biomorphic radicalism in the destructive synthesis, Gallery Sam Brook, Moscow, Russia
2003 Retrospective Cut, Natural Science University, Moscow, Russia
2002 Project 2x10, Gallery A-3
2001 Science-n-Art Project in cooperation with Honored Inventor of Russia V. Beshekov
1999 Saturated Landscape, Staraja Basmannja St. 21, Moscow, Russia
1998 Moscow World Bank, Russia
1997 Beljaevo, Moscow, Russia
1994 Musras in Theatre Perovskaja St., Moscow, Russia
1993 Kashirka Gallery, Moscow, Russia
Selected Group Exhibitions
2011 Art Moscow, Moscow Rewriting Worlds: Dada Moscow, 4th Moscow Biennale of Contemporary Art, Moscow, Russia Free Spaces, Special Project of the 4th Moscow Biennale of Contemporary Art, Moscow, Russia Pro-Contra, International Symposium, Special Project of the 4th Moscow Biennale of Contemporary Art, Moscow, Russia The Life. The science version, Winzavod, Contemporary Art Center, Moscow, Russia New sculpture, Chaos and Structure, New Museum, St. Petersburg, Russia Distortions of the Earth, Agency ArtRu, Moscow, Russia Art Focus For Technologies: Charm and Challenge, Ural Forum “INNOPROM 2011”, Ekaterinburg
2010 Club 21, One Marylebone, St. Martin‘s Church, London, UK The Kandinsky Prize 2010, Central House of Artists, Moscow, Russia Art Moscow 14th International Art Fair, Barbarian-Art Gallery A New Formalism, Museum of a City sculpture, St. Petersburg, Russia VOLTA-6, Basel, Switzerland VIENNAFAIR, The International Contemporary Art Fair focused on CEE, Vienna, Austria Reality metamorphoses, or Games with Time, Zverev's centre of contemporary art, Moscow, Russia 0,5 Jubilee exhibition, gallery pop/off/art, Moscow, Russia
2009 New sculpture, Chaos and Structure, Coluyanka gallery, Moscow, Russia Good News, OREL ART gallery, London, UK Art Moscow 13 th International Art Fair, pop/off/art gallery, Moscow, Russia Preview Berlin, Germany Basel Selection Artfair, gallery OBOIMA Project Bureau, Switzerland VOLTA5, Barbarian Art Gallery, Basel, Switzerland Night of museums, State Tretyakov Gallery, Moscow, Russia Evolution of a dream, State Darwin museum, Russia EUROP'ART'09 Grand-Saconnex Geneva, Switzerland BridgeArtFair, New York, USA
2008 Atlantis, Gallery A3, Moscow, Russia (Curator T. Kostrikova) Invasion: Evasion BAIBAKOV art projects Bridge Miami Beach, USA Cyberfest, Youth Educational Centre of State Hermitage Museum, St. Petersburg, Russia Power of Water, State Russian Museum, St. Petersburg, Russia Tunguska meteorite, 100-years of falling, Krasnoyarsk, Russia Art About Mortality, in memory N. Konstantinova, Rostov on Don, Russia (Curator S. Sapojnilov) Sleeping district, Gallery ArtMarin, Curator A. Panov 100% Black Square, Gallery pop/off/art, Moscow, Russia Begehungen, Chemnitz, Germany
2007 Competition on the project a monument to Boris Yeltsin 7th Krasnoyarsk Biennial 2007, Curator S. Kovalevsky Work is exhibited at a show-window of a museum ART4.RU
2005 Art Manezh, Moscow, Russia Art Moscow, (pop/off/art), Central House of Artists, Russia
2004 World of War, Museum Of Decorative Art, Moscow, Russia
2003 The Size Does Matter, Central House of Artists, Moscow, Russia Object and Thing, Museum Of Decorative Art, Moscow, Russia
1997 Action Initiation, Art Laboratory Dominanta, Moscow, Russia Bleeding of Spring, Malaja Gruzinskaja, Moscow, Russia
1996 Art Manezh, Moscow, Russia Art Moscow, (Dominanta), Central House of Artists
1994 Fun-Art, Central House of Artists, Moscow, Russia
1992 Group Hummer Manezh, Moscow, Russia Golden Brush, Central House of Artists, Moscow, Russia
1991 Malaja Gruzinskaja in Manezh , Moscow, Russia Space and Spirit, Central House of Artists, Moscow, Russia Group “Hummer” Central House of Artists, Moscow, Russia
1988 In Memory fo Pjatnitzkogo Malaja Gruzinskaja , Moscow, Russia Labyrinth, Palace of Youth, Moscow, Russia
Museum of Contemporary Art, Art4.RU, Moscow, Russia
Museum of Ecology and Local History, Muravlenko, Russia