Through drawings, to the stars.
Per tractus ad astra
February 16 - April 9, 2023
This exhibition is part of an ambitious project bringing art and science together that Rostan Tavasiev has been working on for a few years now: "By filling space with art, we can make it feel closer, more human-friendly and more easily understood. This is what space exploration is actually about." The exhibition features drawings and sketches of gigantic sculptures designed for outer space. According to the artist's concept, the sculptures would be made of planetary nebulae. They could be more than 30 trillion kilometres tall or wide.
The project was inspired by Rostan Tavasiev's discussions with astrophysicist Sergey Popov. The artist and the scientist held a series of interviews on the possibility of creating works of art in outer space. To further deepen his knowledge of the subject, Rostan attended the Basic Astronomy course at the Lomonosov Moscow State University, from which he graduated with honours.
Planetary nebulae are the first astronomical objects that the artist has directed his attention (and imagination) to. They are some of the most spectacular sights in the Universe thanks to the glowing clouds of cooling plasma in the shells ejected by stars. In our galaxy, planetary nebulae occur quite often - once in several Earth years. The first nebula was discovered in 1764, and around 3,000 more nebulae have been observed since then.
The artist suggests that future space sculptures should be based on binary stars that have already entered the initial phase of planetary nebula formation. The drawings and photographic prints on display at the exhibition give an idea of the stages that the artist's imagination goes through while investigating nebulae. When designing his nebulae, the artist follows the principles of academic drawing: "First, you create an image based on the emotional and sensory perception of nature and the scene, then you accurately measure what you see and adjust the drawing accordingly so that it would correspond to the original." After creating an expressive image in his drawing, the artist next animates the new nebula to add a third dimension to it before painting it in colours that mirror the spectral lines of chemical elements.
Rostan's drawings are reminiscent of the illustrations made by famous astronomers of the past such as Maria Clara Eimmart, Étienne Léopold Trouvelot and William Parsons, 3rd Earl of Rosse, whose depictions of celestial objects are more than invaluable pieces of research but also genuine works of art.
Each of the projects presented at the exhibition will take no less than 20,000 years to produce. The planetary nebulae designed by the artist would be visible in outer space for at least 10,000 years. After that, the substance that the nebula is made of will begin to slowly cool off - the shape of the plasma cloud will remain almost the same but the glow will slowly fade away. The exhibition features designs of planetary nebulae for both the Northern and Southern hemispheres; their location is shown on the star chart.
The exhibition Through drawings, to the stars is part of the artist's large-scale project as he looks to create a catalogue of works of art for outer space. In 2021, Rostan Tavasiev began working with the Skoltech Space Center. In cooperation with researchers, the artist devised a prototype space mission to observe the main asteroid belt. Rostan is currently studying the possibility of creative exploration of black holes.
About the artist:
Rostan Tavasiev is a Russian artist who was born in Moscow in 1976. He has taken part in more than 70 group exhibitions. Rostan Tavasiev's solo shows were staged at the Multimedia Art Museum, Moscow, and in art galleries in Moscow, Saint Petersburg, Norilsk, Vladivostok, Grozny, Paris, Budapest, London, Miami, Bologna, and Sofia. He was shortlisted for the Innovation Contemporary Art Prize in 2006 and 2013. Tavasiev's works are owned by the State Tretyakov Gallery, the Multimedia Art Museum, Moscow, the Moscow Museum of Modern Art and more, as well as by private art collectors.