If only is part of the Life is Hard, but Thankfully Brief project (2014). Here the artist turns to the aesthetics of graffiti: he likens the surface of the canvas to that of the wall, and builds the interaction with the text upon the same principle, with the text going down in uneven, as if spontaneous, lines. The main focus here lies on the contrast between the moss green background and the red, as if lit up, coy phrase ‘If only I could draw, I would be so great and precious’. The artist’s signature in black letters in the lower left corner of the painting becomes an element of the composition due to its size and style.
Gutov is a master of the intellectual game in that he replaces a work of art with a comment on a work of art by giving it the characteristic functions of and eventually making it an actual work of art. This statement remains open for interpretation: it is perceived as an artist’s manifest of his ‘artistic impotence’, of his artistic limitations, and as a note on the crisis in art, resonant with Mark Rothko’s style of painting, and as an artist’s thoughts on trying to measure up to the gold standard of history of art and eternity.
Dmitry Gutov, 1991
Dmitry Gutov, 2013
Dmitry Gutov, 2002
Dmitry Gutov, 2006