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Virtual Mythology INTRODUCTION

“Architecture, ne art, sculpture… There are no boundaries, everything ows from one form to another giving me new ideas – this is a natural interaction” Stepan Ryabchenko

Country club / Architecture project / 2007

A myth is a story, fiction. But the world does not exist without this fiction. Virtual reality with its integration into material reality - an illustration of how an idea becomes a mental construction of visual shapes, volumes and eventually embodied in matter. The original model creation. Stepan Ryabchenko's virtual reality in his interpretation claims to completeness welcome, so endowed with his own myth - digital mock soul reality. The narrative of image is complemented by the narrative of a story. Stepan Ryabchenko's every work is a new topos or character in its virtual Universe, that borders the fine material world. The artist uses his animated virtual units as modules to build autonomous space, portal in its own alternate reality. All elements and creatures that inhabit artist's virtual space have their own legend, which is the root of birth in the same plane, refers to classics and antiquity but expands in the plane of the present. Baroque forms, biomorphic outlines, bright colors combined with refined coldness of glossy digital images and material in which it is implemented - aluminum, polymers, neon - sharpen the

sound of Ryabchenko's current motives - boundaries between virtual and material reality, between digital and analog world, between artificial and natural. Breaking this limit, artist follows the comprehensive global trends "digitization" and reality addition. Stepan Ryabchenko is actually engaged in expansion, gradually dragging his "agents" from the virtual space into a physical one. Variability of size, materials, possible repetitions offer additional benefits and options in this expansion. "Virtual Mythology" project is a kind of anthology, which contains fragments of different series, different elements that together form a kaleidoscopic panorama of authorial digital world and are built into a single narrative. As in the classic myth Stepan Ryabchenko personalizes nature, elements, explores the theme of the hero and anti-hero, life and death, love and freedom in his mythology. Using a component of technological development of mankind as a tool Stepan Ryabchenko appeals to the idea of human relationships with the natural environment, the formation of values and fundamental understanding of their own identity. Natalia Matsenko, art critic

Walking Flower / Sculpture project / 2015 2|3

Sun eclipsed by clouds, Walking Figure, Walking Canvas, Walking Flower, Sinking Fox / 2009 - 2015 digital print, 3d printing, polymers, neon

“My heroes are those, who were born there and came here, romance and doers of digital age� Stepan Ryabchenko

The Judgment Day / 2016 digital print


Lemon chickens will be saved... / 2009 digital print


Lemon chickens will be saved..., The Temptation of St. Anthony. From the Heroes series 3rd Danube Biennale / Danubiana-Meulensteen Art Museum, Bratislava, Slovakia / 2015


“My new series of works are dedicated to the creation of a virtual garden, Honey Plant became the hero of it - a plant which attracts insects for collecting nectar and recycling it into sweet honey. Everyone is looking for such a source in his life, everyone deď€ nes it differently and it gives everyone what he actually needsâ€? Stepan Ryabchenko

Stepan Ryabchenko systematically works on destroying the boundaries between physical and virtual reality, keeping pace with the global process of "digitization" and reality augmentation. At the same time the artist retains unwavering craving for traditional motifs and classical forms. His works are recognizable, and, while dealing with different topics in different series and being realized in the form of prints, sculptures and neon installations, they still line up into a single coherent story. In the case of Stepan Ryabchenko, the expression "personal world of artist" takes literal meaning, because it does create an alternative reality: a multi-dimensional virtual space that has its own laws, forms of life, mythology and specifics of relationship with material world. A new round of Ryabchenko's research is the "Virtual Flowers" series, which consists of anthropomorphic flower characters inhabiting the boundless virtual expanses of the artist's works. They are not mere objects, but heroes, possessing their own character and equipped with artist's description. In addition to the mythology which every character is endowed with, they all have bright and unusual forms with almost tangible materiality. Each inhabitant of the virtual garden-world is nurtured by the artist with inspiration, awe and care of a good gardener, nurturing his creations and providing them with

the best growing conditions. The existence of this garden is not limited by climate factors or any physical parameters. Its appearance, species diversity, area and duration of existence are measured solely by the capabilities of creative mind. Flowers are a symbol of the origin of life, inspiration, creativity and hope. By creating virtual nature Ryabchenko dedicates it to the establishment of harmony between humanity and existing material nature, offering his own approach to these relations, gentle and personal, where everyone is a conscious subject. In Ryabchenko's interpretation this topic is reminiscent of Romantic period artists, who sought answers to many questions in the relationship between human and nature, and who saw in nature a reflection of the innermost feelings and thoughts. The theme of relations between humanity and nature is as old as the world itself, but the artist is looking for new ways and languages for its comprehension. In addition, this topic becomes especially acute when the threat of environmental catastrophe permanently hangs over the world mainly because our activity and relations with the world are not thought-out enough. Using one of the results of humanity technological progress as a tool, Ryabchenko aims to bring an element of creativity into relationship between human and their original natural surroundings. Natalia Matsenko, art critic

Honey Plant / fragment of work 12 | 13

Honey Plant / 2012 digital print

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The Ark / 2013 digital print

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Evening Drift / 2013 - 2016 digital print

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Lateca (Laetifica Tenues Caulis) It is a rare species of the honeyplant family; until recently, was considered extinct from the virtual nature. Full name "Laetifica Renues Caulis". It is known for its medicinal and therapeutic properties. Moreover, its special feature is the accumulation of positive energy and its radiation to the surrounding beings, often psychologically depressed, sad, nervous or even prone to depression. In this regard, it was awarded the status of "Virtual Therapist". Sensory microcells, comprising the cover of the plant are able to capture the smallest signals in the area, scan the object, its condition, and send "correction" signal, as necessary. During the first minutes of action the state of euphoria may be felt. Lateca lives in isolation, preferably on the water, that helps it filter nutrient materials, delivering them to the plant through the root system.

Lateca. From the Virtual Flowers series / 2014 - 2016 digital print

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Greenwalking Dendriform One of the oldest virtual plants. Unofficially, was dubbed "Walking Naturalist." It reacts to the environment of the real world. Therefore, if somewhere in the world any plant or animal dies, the Greenwalking Dendriform wilts; if born – it blooms and fragrants. At such moments, the plant attracts insects from all around to collect pollen. The crust of the Greenwalking Dendriform comprises anti-aging substances. It lives mostly in small groups form 3 to 10, more rarely, 12 species. The plant is the main supplier of the official statistics to the centers for environmental and ecolgical studies. Despite the fact that population of the Greenwalking Dendriform is very small and listed in the International Virtual Nature Protection Organization (IVNPO), the plant is, in fact, not subjected to aging.

Greenwalking Dendriform. From the Virtual Flowers series / 2016 digital print

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Glassflower the Gorgeous Such a rare species can only be met in the northern part of the virtual space, close to the Glass lake, which, according to the legend, gave birth to the flower. Due to its appearance and shaggy "boots" on the basis of stalk the plant was named the Gorgeous. The structure of the flower is still unknown as it has a reflective mirror-like surface, which merges with the surroundings and makes the plant almost completely invisible. The second reason - the three legs that help the Glassflower to move at a speed of "thought", so no one has to catch it. Legend says, that this mysterious flower can only be met by a person who has love in his heart, pure as the morning dew.

Glassflower the Gorgeous. From the Virtual Flowers series / 2016 digital print

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Alchemicus Redolent The nature of the virtual world is rich and diverse. One of its unique representatives, Alchemicus Redolent, also known as Flower - Perfumer, is everybody's favorite and the king of the bees' hearts. The body of the flower resembles a complex alchemic laboratory that constantly operates conducting experiments in search of new fragrances. Specific plant cells produce essential oils, which create compounds unexplainable by any analysis or logic. They comprise the complex mixtures of various components that enter the body of the flower through the "filtering disk-shaped hat," seep into the cone, and circulate through all the vessels of the plant. Like a musical virtuoso, playing on the strings of all kinds of fragrances, Alchemicus accumulates almost the entire virtual entomofauna. Emitting an unusual odor, the smell of the this honeyplant attracts even the most sophisticated nectar lovers.

Alchemicus Redolent. From the Virtual Flowers series / 2016 digital print

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Crimson Needle Fidget Do you know how crimson dawn look like? Few people know how crimson dawn look like. In that hour, when everything is blooming and fragrant, the moment, when the insects are uncountable, that wonderful time, when the sky for a moment becomes scarlet and on the horizon, fun and provocatively flying towards you the irrepressible hellion of the virtual world - Crimson Needle Fidget. This frisky and lovely flower is endowed with special properties. With its bright appearance, its bloom is nothing but a bundle of containers for storage of nectar, which Fidget collects using syringe tips from other honey plants and processes it into miraculous extracts. All virtual residents know that this walking "pharmacy" can cure almost any disease. Often he is asked for help in private life, knowing that his "shelf" has a place for various elixirs... However, injections are not always pleasant, and this is the case, when it is said "If you like honey, you should love cold as well".

Crimson Needle Fidget. From the Virtual Flowers series / 2016 digital print

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Fiolent Crystal Baby One of the most delicate and lovely flowers in virtual nature. Fiolent Crystal Baby appears in the sensory habitats of nascent love. It is also called "Evening Claw" and "Jealous Droplet". Extremely fragile essence depends on reciprocity and sincere feelings of the love object. Under favorable conditions, there is a dance, which causes a surprisingly gentle bloom, and from an overabundance of love flower swirls, releasing love pheromones. In these moments joy and happiness are floating around that germ of love. Digital nature rejoices, virtual Earth jubilates.

Fiolent Crystal Baby. From the Virtual Flowers series / 2016 digital print

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Electronic Winds WIND ROSE

“Each era offers its own themes to reect on. In my opinion, digital art reects the era in which the line between the real world and the virtual world is blurred. I found it interesting to transform ancient Greek mythology with its unique atmosphere into a virtual mythology and create portraits of some virtual winds that blow across modern times: the Electronic Zephyrus, Electronic Notus, Electronic Eurus and Electronic Boreas” Stepan Ryabchenko

Electronic Notos / 2015 video projection

Each work created by Stepan Ryabchenko is a new topos or a new character in his virtual universe, finely bordering with the material world, periodically appearing therein as the artist's next project. The artist uses his virtual animated units as modules to build an autonomous space, a portal to his limitless virtual world of imagery.

In the Wind Rose project four winds, coming from Greek mythology, appear as four fundamental principles, four directions, four different elements. Ryabchenko takes natural elements, myth, and digital reality and combines them in an electronic mix of today, dynamic, contemporary categorical, but rooted in history, mythology, and nature. Natalia Matsenko, art critic

Electronic Notos / fragment of work 32 | 33

Electronic Zephyrus (on pink) / 2008 digital print

Electronic Notos / 2015 digital print

Electronic Eurus / 2015 digital print

Electronic Zephyrus (on white) / 2008 digital print


“The main idea of creating the Computer Viruses series - is the idea of infection through art� Stepan Ryabchenko

Stepan Ryabchenko's "Computer Viruses" series visualize the most famous computer viruses that caused a lot of damage throughout the world. The series is a kind of computer history "Virology" playback, since one of the first viruses like "Brain" (1987) were founded, ending with the heroes of the recent past - "I Love You" (2000), "Doom" (2004) and others. Following the Latin proverb "Nomen est omen" ("Name is destiny"), the logic of artistic formation of "viruses" bodies is determined by their names, and their specific impact on computer systems. The dreadful "Chernobyl" with its tangled outlines reminds of the gaping jaws of a monster. The iridescent "Chameleon", shimmering with different colors, appears to have been captured at one moment of its endless metamorphoses and transformations. The airy "Butterfly" shows how easily a deadly virus can take over a virtual device. Under the empty eyes and mouth of "Smiley" you can see infinite damage and disasters hidden behind a smile. The twisted shapes of the viruses seem to presage destruction. Stepan Ryabchenko creates agents gallery of entropy, which cast doubt on the stability of the world order in its everyday context. However, their images serve as a kind of therapy: visualizing the invisible fears artist displays their "innocence" and safety. In "Computer Viruses" series nonexistent things, virtual organisms, have a form and get conditional volume. Sometimes, the artist will acquire the outlines of living beings. The forms of viruses bodies create the impression

of a ripple, that are ready to launch explosive mechanism. Getting acquainted with the Computer Viruses is similar to examining microbes under a microscope. However, the artist shows to the viewer the microorganism in a completely different reality - a body from the virtual world. In "Computer Viruses" series a logical extension of modern mythology is represented, which is created and explored by Stepan Ryabchenko. Topic for another discussion - the integrity of artistic search, which forms a single narrative. More precisely cyber narrative. It is a large-scale and ambitious story about the world of virtual reality - with ideas, characters and mythology. A work of art is perceived as the ultimate embodiment of the non-existent. The artist alters reality, giving form to non existing things: his ideas, mythological plot, ideal proportions of the human body. Or the artist invents reality as such, passing through the filters of his everyday artistic vision. Ephemeral, ghostly becomes foreseeable - through artist's optics. And his particular visual language. Step by step, the artist melts reality into a myth. And vice versa - raises the everyday gray to modern epic, in which ordinary people and equal lines do not exist, intersecting not dramatic stories and "quiet" colors. His imagination inhabits limit realities with strange bright creatures, heroes, trickster, destroyers. No matter how long we peer into the shadows, we cannot really tell which of the two realities is before our eyes. We actually do not know whether we ever succeed in catching the elusive. Alexander Mykhed, writer and curator

Power Pump / From the Computer Viruses series / 2011 38 | 39

White Noise. From the Computer Viruses series / 2009

“All of Ryabchenko's works are born in a virtual world and exist within that world like a strain – the pure culture of a virus. Taking on material form, they do not only change their appearance, acquiring texture, mass and volume, they also “infect” space, as if computer viruses suddenly found themselves to be the cause of a real epidemic” Daria Borisenko, art critic

Chernobyl. From the Computer Viruses series / 2011 digital print

Melissa. From the Computer Viruses series / 2011 digital print


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STEPAN RYABCHENKO 1987 – Born in Odessa, Ukraine 2011 – Graduated from Odessa State Academy of Civil Engineering and Architecture, Architecture - Art Institute 2010 – Member of the National Union of Artists of Ukraine 2011 – Nominated for the PinchukArtCentre Prize 2012 – Laureate of the international competition of contemporary sculpture "Kyiv Sculpture Project" Lives and works in Odessa, Ukraine Selected exhibitions: 2017

Polprawda - Half-truth / Krolikarnia, Warsaw, Poland Sounds of Silence / Odessa Museum of Western and Eastern Art, Odessa, Ukraine Art Work / Art Arsenal, Kyiv, Ukraine Show Promise / Art Palace, Lvov, Ukraine


Virtual Mythology / AU Gallery, Kyiv, Ukraine Event Horizon / Art Arsenal, Kyiv, Ukraine Recipe for Utopia / Modern Art Research Institute, Kyiv, Ukraine Honey Plant / Invogue Gallery, Odessa, Ukraine Litoralis / Drukarnya Art Centre, Ivano-Frankovsk, Ukraine Clouded Lands / Art Arsenal, Kyiv, Ukraine


New Perspectives: 8 Contemporary Artists from Ukraine / Ukrainian Institute of America, New York, USA 3rd Danube Biennale / Danubiana-Meulensteen Art Museum, Bratislava, Slovakia IV Odessa Biennale of Contemporary Art / Odessa Museum of Western and Eastern Art, Odessa, Ukraine Enfant Terrible. Conceptual Art of Odessa / National Art Museum of Ukraine, Kyiv, Ukraine The Museum's collection. Ukrainian contemporary art 1985-2015 's. / Art Arsenal, Kyiv, Ukraine Dialogia / Art Arsenal, Kyiv, Ukraine


Premonition: Ukrainian Art Now / Saatchi Gallery, London, United Kingdom Long Path to Freedom / Ukrainian Institute of Modern Art, Chicago, USA Octants / Triumph Gallery, Moscow, Russia The Ukrainian Landscape / Art Arsenal, Kyiv, Ukraine New Ukrainian Dream / Art Arsenal, Kyiv, Ukraine Ukraine. Archetype of Freedom / Novomatic Forum, Vienna, Austria


Contemporary Ukrainian Artists / Saatchi Gallery, London, United Kingdom Terrain Orientation / National Art Museum of Ukraine, Kyiv, Ukraine The Odessa School. Tradition and Currency / Art Arsenal, Kyiv, Ukraine Great and Grand / Art Arsenal, Kyiv, Ukraine Sculpture about Sculpture / YermilovCentre, Kharkov, Ukraine Biruchiy Contemporary Art Project / Biruchiy Island, Ukraine


Arsenale 2012 / International biennale of contemporary art, Art Arsenal, Kyiv, Ukraine The Myth. Ukrainian Baroque / National Art Museum of Ukraine, Kyiv, Ukraine Kyiv Sculpture Project / Gryshko National Botanical Garden, Kyiv, Ukraine Social Euphoria / Modern Art Research Institute, Kyiv, Ukraine


PinchukArtCentre Prize / PinchukArtCentre, Kyiv, Ukraine Independent / Art Arsenal, Kyiv, Ukraine Space Odyssey / Art Arsenal, Kyiv, Ukraine Moments of Silence / Modern Art Research Institute, Kyiv, Ukraine


TOP-10 Contemporary Artists of Odessa / HudPromo Gallery, Odessa, Ukraine Those, who came at the start of 2000 / M17 Contemporary Art Center, Kiev, Ukraine Art-Act / First All-Ukrainian Triennial of Abstract Art / Chernovtsy, Ukraine Star Wars / Contemporary Art Centre, Odessa, Ukraine Abstract Art of Odessa / Museum of Modern Art, Odessa, Ukraine


Restart / Marine Art – Terminal, Odessa, Ukraine Kunstart / Festival of Contemporary Art, Bolzano, Italy Outside of the System / Modern Art Research Institute, Kyiv, Ukraine


Odessa Contemporary Art / Museum of Modern Art, Odessa, Ukraine


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STEPAN RYABCHENKO| Virtual Mythology

Published by Art Laboratory

Design Stepan Ryabchenko

Editor Olga Kostiuk

Texts Daria Borisenko Natalia Matsenko Alexander Mykhed Stepan Ryabchenko

Photos Alexander Kozachenko Stepan Ryabchenko

Translation Olga Kostiuk

Cover Stepan Ryabchenko The Judgment Day / digital print / 2016

Published in 2018

Š Art Laboratory | All Rights Reserved

Limited edition 1 / 100