Curated by LihLan Wong

No Man’s Art Gallery celebrates the second solo exhibition of Moscow-based artist Maxim Santalov (1989) titled Fantastic Equisetum.

At a young age, the self-taught artist started drawing after school while waiting for his grandmother to finish work at the hairdresser’s salon in the outskirts of Moscow. He created small illustrations on magazine covers. These daily sketches soon developed into a serious artistic passion without ever compromising his youthful spontaneity.

Maxim Santalov, Go Away! It's my Geyser, 2016

Maxim Santalov, Go Away! It’s my Geyser, 2016


The work of the artist is rooted in the artistic history of Russia, referring to the Constructivist aesthetic and Malevich’s Suprematism of abstract forms, mathematical compositions and floating structures combined with depictions that are related to the content of Russian Social Realism that succeeded the avant-garde movement. Santalov switches effortlessly between meticulous geometric drawings and figurative work, juxtaposing rural subjects with urban cityscapes. “The strict geometry of my work is a praise of self-limitation, which is a road towards progress. I named my technique Ävangraphics, which rejects inconsistency. At first glance it may seem as if my drawings are devoid of space/air but look more closely. The work is marked with scratches and ripples which impose shape and texture. Space binds together the elements of composition,” (Santalov)

However solely placing Santalov’s work in the Russian artistic tradition of the beginning of the past century does not do it enough justice. “My work is my own insectarium, filled with vanishing species and unidentifiable creatures,” says Santalov. This imaginative element in his work finds its origin in the artist’s childhood memories. During his youth he spent summers at his great grandmother’s village in Ukraine. Playing in the countryside surrounded by grazing cows, chasing insects and running through sunflower fields, marks the happiest time in the artist’s life. The rich colour palette of deep red, bright green and orange with a yellow base are reminiscent of this period and in sharp contrast with Moscow’s harsh and predominantly dark climate.

Maxim Santalov, Irrigation, 2016

Maxim Santalov, Irrigation, 2016

Figures, bulls, plants, they can all be discovered between the geometrical repetitive lines and nerves. Santalov has the ability to arouse his viewer’s curiosity. As if one floats in his dense ‘insectarium’, or in his endless angular seas, each time discovering something new. It is exactly this “fantastic” quality that is celebrated; Fantastic Equisetum awakens fantasy and memory. ‘Equisetum’ or ‘horsetail’ is an ancient genus, far family of the beginning of Earth’s first forests, a breed with extensive ineradicable roots and offspring of the days that Earth was inhabited by giant insects and strange flora.

Santalov’s work has been featured in No Man’s Art Gallery Pop-up exhibitions in i.a. Shanghai, Cape Town and Copenhagen, the Ekaterina Foundation “New Voices” exhibition as well as the Moscow Biennial.

Maxim Santalov invited young Russian painter Olya Leontieva (1991) to exhibit her work in the NMAG Project Space. Leontieva is interested in the effect that spaces have on the people that inhabit them. In her work she portrays the atmosphere of certain spaces, capturing the essence of it and communicating the effect it has on emotions of the people in it. At the moment she is exploring her own experience of spaces through her work, creating a large body of abstract work. Leontieva uses a soft colour pallet that captures a sense of innocence and youthfulness in her pieces. The uses of loose brush strokes, often in broken geometric shapes, add a dreamlike quality to the images she produces.


‘Fantastic Equisetum’ runs from April 8th until May 15th open weekends from 11 – 6PM

Note: The exhibition is at our beautiful new location on Nieuwe Herengracht 123 (next to our current office)
For inquiries, please contact curator Lih-Lan Wong: | +31 (0)6 3755 0132

Olya Leontieva, Slow Feeling #1, 2016

Olya Leontieva, Slow Feeling #1, 2016

Many thanks to the sponsor of this exhibition, Oedipus Brewing

Oedipus Brewing

Oedipus Brewing


Open every weekend from 11-6 at Nieuwe Herengracht 123