VIRTUAL MUSEUM OF CONTEMPORARY UKRAINIAN ART: dramas and comedies by Ilya Isupov
Photo: Natalia Kravchuk / nv.ua
Ilya Isupov is a representative of the bright creative Ukrainian dynasty of the Isupovs, each of which is somehow connected with art. In the context of “contemporary” art, or the so-called contemporary, Ilya is mentioned more often than other family members, although he does nothing specifically for this. As he himself admits, he is lazy to create a strategy for his public image, although he does not deny the necessity of this matter.
Moreover, now Ilya Isupov has a reputation as a reserved loner, who rarely speaks, but accurately, and works, as a rule, in solitude. At the same time, as if in a modest way, his colleagues and friends do not get tired of retelling outstanding stories about noisy parties with the participation of Ilya Isupov together with Ilya Chichkan in shocking roles.
As a rule, we are talking about the times of the famous Kyiv squats, in which a whole generation of young Ukrainian artists worked, who then, in the late 1980s – early 1990s, formed the “new Ukrainian wave”, and now are the core of the country’s artistic elite. Ilya Isupov is a representative of this particular generation. As he himself answers questions about choosing a field of activity, he literally had nowhere to run from art.
Parents and older brother are artists (mother Nelly Isupova and brother Sergei are famous ceramists, father Volodymyr is an artist and teacher), the whole social circle is also extremely creative – it was simply impossible not to engage in art.
Already at the age of 17, immediately after graduating from the RHSSH (currently – the State Art Secondary School named after Taras Shevchenko), the young artist begins to exhibit his works, and at the age of twenty he finds himself with his paintings in London, where, according to legend, all of them were sold out, which allowed Isupov to stay in Britain for three years.
Upon returning to Ukraine, the artist does not find squats or friendly gatherings and parties. Apparently, despite the relative introversion, Isupov still misses the exchange of ideas, the joint creative space. This is partly why the artist became a permanent resident of the BIRUCHIY Contemporary Art Symposium.
Returning to Ukraine, the artist found a transitional period in art here, when the wild atmosphere of freedom and experimentation was replaced by tactics and thoughtful concepts, which was unusual for Isupov. And now, in comments and interviews, he says with some annoyance that “everyone has become literate, and there is essentially nothing to look at” , meaning the shift in focus from the visual part of art to the ideological one.
Otherwise, the art of Ilya Isupov ideally corresponds to all the attributes of classical postmodernism: it quotes predecessor artists, relies on elements of popular culture, operates with personal experience and the subconscious, responds to the current agenda and, most importantly, does everything with irony.
It is curious that in the work of Ilya Isupov, all these elements are often present directly in one work, as, for example, in the 2014 painting dedicated to the dramatic events on the Maidan. The canvas depicts an almost classic equestrian portrait, made according to all the rules of the genre and referring to the era of romanticism.
At the same time, it is believed  that the rider on the white horse Isupov personifies one of the horsemen of the Apocalypse from the revelation of John the Theologian, the one who, according to various versions, is responsible either for righteousness, or for conquests and victories, which in any case corresponds to the meaning the content of the picture, because the rider on it is a protester in a recognizable specific improvised “barricade” uniform: a protective motorcycle jacket in the role of armor, a construction helmet instead of a helmet, a shield borrowed from a bus stop.
Despite the fact that we know how tragically the events on the Maidan developed, and we know that Ilya Isupov painfully experienced them, reflecting in painting, he did not betray himself and, of course, was ironic in this work as well.
As the art critic and curator Alexander Soloviev said about the creator, “Isupov organically balances on the verge of genre, absurdity and grotesque”. His sense of humor is really well perceived from his works, but at the same time the artist does not go to extremes and does not slip into an infantile comedy, leaving room in his art for serious topics and topicality.
Mixing the aesthetics of popular prints, comics, modernist style of the early twentieth century, art-brut, Soviet book illustration and much more , Ilya Isupov maintains a kind of mosaic, picturesque diary that can tell a lot about the author, and about the country, and about each of US.
 From Ilya Isupov’s interview to Asya Bazdyreva for Art Ukraine.
 Ksenia Malykh: Ilya Isupov, artist’s resume – PAC research platform