Sergei Isupov: PAST & PRESENT

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Past & Present Sergei Isupov

FERRIN CONTEMPORARY presents contemporary ceramic art, sculpture, and selected works by represented artists and masterworks from private collections. Located in North Adams, Massachusetts on MASS MoCA’s 16-acre campus, our airy, white-box space serves as both a project incubator and traditional gallery program. Curated exhibitions are presented in conjunction with partner galleries, museums, and educational institutions throughout the country. Visit for more on our exhibitions and our collection or estate management programs. Exhibition and catalog production by Ferrin Contemporary staff, catalog layout by Rory Coyne, and photography by John Polak. 2022 Published by Ferrin Contemporary 1315 Mass MoCA Way, North Adams, MA 01247

cover image, right: Sergei Isupov, and Past and Present (installation)

Contents Section 1 statement Past & Present (installation) individual works

5 6 - 10 10 - 21

Section 2 partial exhibition overview 22 artist biography 23 Past & Present (installation key) list of works

24 - 25 25

Past & Present Sergei Isupov Sergei Isupov: PAST & PRESENT features new ceramic sculptures presented with both a multi-dimensional, mixed-media wall installation and independent pedestal-based works. Isupov and Ferrin Contemporary have been working together and presenting exhibitions internationally since 1996 and this will be the artist’s third solo show in our North Adams gallery location. This exhibition comes at a particularly sensitive time for the artist. Born in Stravropol, Russia in 1963, Isupov is the son of a painter and sculptor. He was raised and educated in Kyiv, Ukraine and Tallinn, Estonia when both of these now separate countries were part of the USSR. Isupov’s family, his father, mother and brother, all established artists, currently reside in Kyiv, Ukraine. With the backdrop of the current war there and threats of Russian aggression in Estonia, Isupov’s recent studio work took on an urgency to counter the overwhelming anxiety and concern for his family facing down threats to their safety and the loss of their formerly peaceful lives. Now, with his wife, artist Kadri Parnaments and their daughter Roosi, they divide their time between two studios/homes in the USA and Estonia. Isupov is a master of nonlinear narration. Combined with his unmatched, masterful skills as both painter and sculptor, the resulting works draw from the past and reflect on the present. Semi-autobiographical, Isupov’s intimate narratives interweave poignant representations of men and women, parents and children, shown alongside one another, their pets pointing to the naive sense of security we hold in our daily lives. These works explore individual, interior landscapes and the continually expanding dualities of the self within complex psychological relationships. Intensely personal yet universal, these works in the context of the present day, remind and call upon us to value, protect and preserve the precarious balance we all stand to lose at any present moment. Isupov pushes the “in the round” idea of a sculpture to its apex by creating a narrative form that is then painted, using stain and glaze, to deepen the story. “Like an Eternity,” pictured here, is a prime example of Isupov’s skill. He sculpts a form that becomes both man ready to fight and another man, or possibly a moon or ghost, in quiet observation. Two couples occupy different landscapes on their journeys, recto and verso of the piece, and their nakedity and or their brightly clothed bodies reveal and conceal their emotional states. Symbols of hope and confusion depicted as decorative shapes feature threatening clouds, caged animals, beams of light. We can’t help but wonder what did, or what will, become of them. Both of Isupov’s 2022 exhibitions include works in porcelain and mixed-media drawings produced at Project Art in Cummington, MA. Project Art is a former 19th-Century mill building he owns with Leslie Ferrin, Founding Director of Ferrin Contemporary. The space hosts exhibitions, events, workshops, and artist residencies. 5

Past & Present (installation) Isupov on the installation: Past & Present is the title of my exhibition and also the title of the installation of 25 head and bust sculptures. The portraits are from my own past and present, both real and imagined. Some were produced in 2010-11 when my daughter Roosi was a baby. They were made and fired in Estonia when my wife Kadri and I lived in Tallinn during Roosi’s first year. Others were fired in wood fire kilns, not something I’m know for or do very often. These particular heads have never been shown before; she’s now 12. The heads are presented on metal shelf attached to a framed collage made with pages from a found Greek language book with gouache figures painted on top. I was happy to find a book that I could not read, and that many viewers in the United States might not be able to read, in order to subvert the search for meaning in the text. Isupov on his work: My work is about contrasts and relationships. I explore contrasts of human condition with my story lines such as male- female and human-animal relationships, and accompanying emotions of warmth and aggression, love and rejection,and nurture and abandonment. Dynamic and interactive narratives are developed using two and three dimensions at the same time with the sculpted form and painted surface. I use a visual vocabulary and classic tools of design, proportion, perspective and silhouette to both sculpt and paint. Eyes show emotional relationships. Facial and figural gestures develop personalities. Illusionary objects and perspectives suggest motion. As a viewer moves around the work, they see each angle and focus point leading to new chapters and story lines. Combined, these clues tell an overall story.


















Sergei Isupov b. 1963, Stavropol, Ukraine lives and works in Cummington, MA artist portfolio Sergei Isupov is an Estonian-American sculptor represented by Ferrin Contemporary, and is internationally known for his highly detailed, narrative works. Isupov explores figure- ground relationships, creating surreal sculptures with a complex artistic vocabulary that combines two- and three- dimensional painterly narratives and animal/human hybrids. He works in ceramic materials using traditional hand building and sculpting techniques to combine surface and form with traditional paintings using stains and clear glaze. Isupov has a long international resume with work includedin numerous collection including the National Gallery of Australia, Museum of Fine Arts, Houston (Texas), Museum of Arts and Design (New York), Racine Art Museum (Wisconsin), Museum of Fine Arts Boston (Massachusetts). His solo museum exhibitions were presented offering selected works from throughout in Hidden Messages at the Erie Art Museum, (Pennsylvania) in 2017, Surreal Promenade in 2019 at the Russian Museum of Art (Minnesota) and Collection Focus: Sergei Isupov in 2014 at Racine Art Museum (Wisconsin). Often called an erotic Surrealist for his daring representations of sexuality, relationships, and human encounters, Isupov merges his subject matter and with ceramic sculptural form. Drawing on personal experience and human observation, he creates work that integrates autobiography with fictional narratives. While the robust and racially distinct facial traits make each sculpture unique, they also make the body of work capable of conveying universal experiences. The bold colour palette, heavily tattooed faces, and textured surfaces relate these works to the aesthetics of traditional Russian art, as well as to contemporary styles of illustration.


Past & Present (installation) head 1

Promise, 2021 porcelain, slip, glaze 11 x 9.5 x 4”

head 2

Inheritance, 2013 porcelain, slip, glaze 10 x 11 x 7”

head 3

Tournament, 2021 porcelain, slip, glaze 8 x 5.5 x 5”

head 4

Evening Press, 2013 porcelain, slip, glaze 11 x 10 x 3.5”

head 5

Mythical Hero, 2020 porcelain, slip, glaze 7.5 x 7 x 10”

head 6

Duality, 2006 porcelain, slip, glaze 8 x 11 x 2.5”

head 7

Alexandria, 2001 porcelain, slip, glaze 6.5 x 5.5 x 3.5”

head 8

There is Only Past and Future, 2019 porcelain, slip, glaze 8.5 x 11.5 x 6”

head 9

Cutesy, 2010 wood-fired porcelain, underglaze 5.5 x 5 x 5.5”


Past & Present (installation) head 10

Sasha, 2001 porcelain, slip, glaze

head 19

7 x 6.5 x 2.5”

head 11

Sunshine, 2010 wood-fired stoneware, underglaze

10.5 x 7.5 x 9”

head 20

7.5 x 6 x 3.5”

head 12

Lorisa, 2001 porcelain, slip, glaze Man Shadow, 2019 porcelain, slip, glaze

head 21

Sweetheart, 2010 wood-fired stoneware, underglaze

head 22

Now Girl, 2010 wood-fired porcelain, underglaze 6.5 x 5.5 x 4”

head 16

Kisses on Saturn, 2008 wood-fired stoneware, underglaze 6.5 x 10 x 3.5”

head 23

7 x 6.5 x 5”

head 15

Master Class, 2018 stoneware, slip 5.5 x 4.5 x 4”

7.5 x 10 x 7”

head 14

Flower of Love, 2010 porcelain, slip, glaze 7.5 x 5.5 x 5”

6.5 x 5 x 3”

head 13

Family Tree, 2015 stoneware, slip, glaze

On Earth and In Heaven, 2021 stoneware, slip, glaze 9.5 x 5 x 3.5”

head 24

Sound in the Head, 2018 stoneware, slip, glaze 12.5 x 9.5 x 8”

Influential, 2019 porcelain, slip, glaze 7 x 6.5 x 6”

head 17

Warrior, 2010 wood-fired stoneware, underglaze 7 x 5.5 x 5”

head 18

Influence of History, 2020 porcelain, slip, glaze 10 x 7 x 8”


List of Works page 7-10

Past & Present (installation), 2022 wood, metal, paper, paint, ceramic 133 x 88”

page 10-11

On the Way, 2020 stoneware, slip, glaze 58.5 x 38 x 18”

page 12-13

Marriage for the Ages, 2022 porcelain, slip, glaze 12 x 11.5 x 11”

page 14-15

Like an Eternity, 2022 porcelain, slip, glaze 13.5 x 10 x 9”

page 16-17

Full Moon Addiction, 2022 porcelain, slip, glaze 13 x 11 x 13”

page 18-19

Momentary Darkness, 2022 porcelain, slip, glaze 14 x 10 x 8”

page 20-21

Nature is Within Us, 2022 porcelain, slip, glaze 13.5 x 12 x 10”


Past & Present Sergei Isupov May 7 - June 25, 2022 exhibition page Ferrin Contemporary 1315 Mass MoCA Way, North Adams, MA 01247

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