Russian-born artist Sergei Isupov investigates binaries in human relationships — male and female, good and evil, beautiful and grotesque. Using clay as both a material for three-dimensional expression and as a canvas for his illustrations, Isupov capitalizes on all properties of what he finds to be the most open medium. He sculpts human and animal figures, and then adds illustrations in glaze. The paintings diffuse into the clay’s surface, like tattoos on his sculptures’ skin. Taken together, the two- and three-dimensional elements of his work establish a compacted but powerful scene of emotions and narratives.
While Isupov pulls from real experiences and moments in his life, these only provide inspiration for the little details in each piece. His works possess a much broader universalism as they are not meant to capture a specific person or time. The identities of his figures remain anonymous — they serve as allegories for general human emotions or themes in relationships.
In their ambiguity, the narratives are remote and uncomfortable. Bodies lie on the ground and embrace in unnatural positions. Animals talk eye to eye with their human counterparts, leaning inward and speaking in hushed tones. The influence of the Surrealist movement on Isupov’s work is obvious. Proportions are perverted and exaggerated. He invents his own outlandish creatures, usually monsters. Although there is something off-putting in his work, his figures evoke empathy and a feeling of comfort.