A DIY, punk aesthetic runs through the work of Sergey Pakhomov, whether it be his outsiderish paintings, ranting microphone performances, or his notorious participation in underground cult films. Pakhomov utilises a lo-fi theatricality to present his own take on how to define the Russian tradition, defending a staunchly anti-commercial stance feeding on so-called vulgar, popular visual culture, and pointing to its embeddedness within a larger culture of the absurd.
Pakhomov’s multi-part paintings on wooden panels, such as the vibrant Russian Landscape, contain a faint echo of traditional altarpieces and fold-out icon paintings. But with their bold, expressionistic style combining text and image, they also mirror the immediacy of political posters and picket signs. Each of the ten panels illustrates scenes suggesting burning, violence and chaos, factory work and barren landscapes. These vignettes serve as a narrative backdrop, but the real star of the work is Pakhomov’s exuberant use of arresting, irregular lettering that captions each frame like an engorged, almost irrational headline.
Repetition and the confection of a lunatic-like self-regard permeate much of Pakhomov’s practice. Ya Pakhom! [I, Pakhom] is made up of 16 smaller fibreboard panels encrusted with irregular geometric shapes and unified by a motto in yellow – his name, ludicrously dancing around each frame to the point where signature, and value, become nonsense speech. Pakhomov’s regard for the unsung and the irregular is highlighted in 382 Sins, in which strange blue shapes are framed by a litany of ‘sin’ written 382 times in undulating handwriting recalling the hand-made signs written and held up, like icons, in public spaces by society’s outcasts.