'Small' Is Actually Big at Guelman Tribute Show

For MTJack Nicholson stares out at visitors at the "Small" exhibition. Thirty-two artists display their tiny works at the show, which is dedicated to Igor Guelman and includes work by the late artist.
When stepping into the "Small" exhibition at the Guelman Gallery, keep your eyes wide open, for you run the risk of not just missing one of the miniscule works on display but treading on one.

Nastya Ryabova, one of 32 artists on display, has an assembly of miniscule stickers, each marked with a single word, splattered upon the wall and floor.

Ivan Yazikov's work is an assortment of black-and-white sketch boards no larger than a cigarette box.

All of the works, from needles in the wall to colored pencils in pencil sharpeners; from 30 button-sized pictures of Jack Nicholson to chocolate potatoes, are united by a single theme: smallness.

The exhibition is dedicated to the life and works of Igor Guelman, son of the gallery's founder, Marat Guelman.

Born in 1983, Igor immigrated as a child to Israel, where he received his Art Certificate at the Ha'Midrasha (Beit Berl College School of Art) in 2005.

Igor was an artist until his death from a drug overdose in 2007, continuously gravitating toward small formats in his works. In one exhibition, he utilized human teeth and hair to create miniature sculptures. "When we say 'small,' we actually mean 'big,'" Igor once stated. "In the same way that the old sexist joke argues that when women say 'no' they actually mean 'yes.'"


Jessica Lee / for MT


Igor never presented his works in Moscow, and "Small" brings a few of his creations to the public eye for the first time

An untitled display from 2006 consists of 11 pieces, each united by the presence of tiny men made of staples conveying various recognizable, often humorous and frequently crude life situations. In one piece, for instance, a tiny staple man stands erect, in both senses, as he relieves himself into a pit in the red ground. In another, three staple men bow before a mighty idol: a picture of a sub sandwich.

"Igor Guelman created a small man's world, which calls to mind a toy Barbie world, only much more diverse, witty and cynical, of course," commented art critic Alexander Evangely.

Igor's works, as well as those of the other artists, draw the viewer away from the large, expanding world of today and into a world in which the smallest details matter most. "Small" serves as a reminder that sometimes it is indeed the small things in life that speak the loudest.

"Small" runs from Oct. 30 to the end of November at the M & J Guelman Gallery in the Winzavod Contemporary Art Center, M. Kurskaya. www.guelman.ru.