«The Imperial Artist», as Boris Orlov calls himself, has been analyzing the power machinery for almost half a century, and the triptych «Earthly host and Heavenly host» – a sign point on this path.

The work was created in 1991, during the period of the perestroika decline and the first putsch. According to the artist, the dramatic events of this year played a role in the creation of the work. But even if we ignore the concrete historical context, it is evident that the «Hosts» is a frontier work dividing the easel works of the Soviet period and later large-scale installations of the artist. In this triptych, there is, rather, a plan for the future alignment of forces, which will be implemented later. This all concerns the applications for a higher, celestial power – which is a reflection of the earthly, and subsequently typed in infernality, will will acquire demonic wings and break out from the «Black Square», capturing the heavens («The Parade of Astral Bodies», 1994).

The representation of the heavenly host in the form of the servants of the human race enemy is based on the biblical interpretation of this phenomenon – there is, along with the others, such a «diabolical» interpretation. In 1991 triptych, the demons are still hidden behind state uniforms, exactly the same as those of the human tribe – the host of the earth. Obviously, for the artist these two spheres are inextricably linked, like the will of power coming from above, and the suppleness of matter that takes this impulse.

The identity of the persons who used to be represented in the pre-perestroika art by Orlov was denoted by educational antique busts, are simplified here to the profile badge, similar to the metallic visor of the antique helmet in appearance. In spite of the different scale (there are seven different sizes of profiles according to the military ranks, plus one – descending from above, like the spirit of the generalissimo), these are all phenomena of the same type, as impersonal and monotonous keys. The structure, built by the artist, resembles a mechanical typewriter most of all, which faded together with the Soviet system. It is striking importunity of the same slogans that appear on its tape: «the joy of victories….win fighting…in each propeller…».

The «Earthly host and Heavenly host» provides only one possibility is to remain yourself in terms of a man – this is the maximum distance from power, avoidance of any uniform, any unification. No identifications, no love for the higher – this is the lesson that was presented to us by the work of 1991, and is still relevant today. This work gave the name of a large-scale retrospective exhibition of Boris Orlov in the Moscow Museum of Modern Art in 2008. V

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