Sergey Kir - Biblical Series of Works


Curated by:

KIR Gallery

Sergey Kir is a unique and innovative artist who's created his own remarkable, new art style, which was he coined "Conceptivism." An ambitious approach to painting, conceptivism synthesizes technology, financial modeling, and art history into a cohesive whole. Utilizing hand drawing, digital photography, and the analytical methods from quantitative finance, Kir's ultimate goal is to create a “gesamtkunstwerk,” or absolute work of art, which goes beyond the visual to incite, provoke, inspire, and enrich the minds of his viewers.

Kir’s compositions are planned using computer algorithms, with strong philosophical and socio-political messages as their underpinnings. By mixing machine learning, finance, humanity, storytelling, and vivid colors, Kir believes that he’s able to create images just this side shy of perfection. His work generally centers around several themes, namely New York City, “the city of peoples' dreams;” Toronto, water, abstraction, Biblical stories by his family background and his personal connection to the "Kir" fortress mentioned in the Hebrew Bible, and world finance, something he describes as being as much an art as a science.

Kir was born in western Ukraine during the time of the Soviet Union and lived in Russia for many years. He now lives in New York City, where he pursues his art carrier, while working in financial risk management.


Artist Statement:

Information about Conceptivism:

Information about the artistic process

This article is a review of the Biblical series of art works produced in 2014-2021 by an American artist (Russian/Ukrainian born) Sergey Kir, inspired by the Bible.

While Kir claims that Biblical stories are an inspiration for this series, there is a lot more going on from the social and cultural perspective, in this series. From the immersive “Witnessing of the Miracle at the Sea of Reeds” experience to the reinterpretations of the inspiration for classical Russian fairy tales, and to the speculations about what Almighty does on daily basis. (Echoing the likes of the recent French noir hit “The Brand New Testament”, without the dark humor).

Contemporary abstract art by nature is rarely used to portray the Bible stories, especially given that in most of the monotheistic religions, there are strict rules and canons that must be adhered to, while painting the theme. Nonetheless, Kir claims that in working under the inspiration of the subject, using Conceptivism techniques (Kir is credited with the creation of the art style which he coined as Conceptivism in 2014), he is reinventing the visual language and means of the art creation, while designing his “Conceptivism model paintings” using “financial modeling and Monte Carlo simulation techniques” adopted from quantitative finance. Kir claims that this exhibition is a groundbreaking introduction of Conceptivism to the audience. It sounds a bit frivolous, but whatever that means, it begs to be looked at, to see if that that makes any sense.

1. In the “Witnessing The Miracle at the Sea of Reeds” Kir is reinterpreting the doctrine from the book of Genesis, and the Gospels, that humans are made in the image of God and possess the Divine presence inside of their physical bodies - Divine temples. In this work, Kir is depicting a famous story of the miraculous escape of the people Israel from the Pharaoh’s army, on the bottom of the Sea of Reeds, which by the command of Moses, directed by God, divides its waters, allowing the Israel to escape on dry land. In this work, presenting the pivotal point of Exodus from the aerial point of view, Kir is reenacting the experience of the drama, for the viewers, from the point of view of Almighty Himself. We are to feel the extend of the drama as if we are watching a blockbaster hit, and Kir is hoping that everyone of us will feel as if we had something to do with the miracle. The aim here seems to be underline the vibrancy of the drama, and ultimately to urge every view to realize their own Divine presence and heritage, existing inside the temples of our bodies, just like it is described in various verses of the Bible.

2. In "Another Episode of an Exciting/Boring Reality TV Show", Kir again is reinterpreting the biblical idea that God is omnipresent and continuously watches over our lives and actions. NYC city (viewed from the Governor Island, it seems) is shown as a stage/set where individuals are performing in their self-chosen and self-directed reality TV shows, as the set is engrossed into the networks of interconnected neuro-grids, presumably transforming the information, thoughts, desires and prayers of individuals to the Creator. The piece is speculating that the Almighty, perhaps having grabbed a bag of popcorn, or a glass of wine, is continuously watching how moral dilemmas humans face affect our thoughts, judgements, and, ultimately, actions. The title of the work also seems to underlines Kir’s concern that we are to try to make each of our own reality TV shows, a more interesting and exhilarating experience for the Creator, injecting suspense, resourcefulness, agility and ability to overcome trauma and pain.

3. "Dreams by the Rivers of Water" is alluding to one of the most poetic books in the Bible – the Song of Songs full of sensual and erotic poetry. There are discussions as to what that book means and what is it doing in a Bible, but Kir’s interpretation seems to appeal to its direct meaning of a sensual context with fleeting curves and abstract and frivolous shapes of different undertone completed in a pink and magenta palette of colors, underlying the suggestiveness of the work. It is not 100% clear where the title connects to the image, however Kir claims that if you look at the painting from a particular point of view you will see a man, leaning over a book (of sensual poetry as Kir claims) with the streams of water running under his shape, with sensual female form looming over him. Kir suggests that we are to explore the meaning of the work and to find our own interpretations of it, including, among other things, but turning the wok over its center in 360 degrees.

4. In "Gold Fish" Kir seems to be is referencing a classical Russian “The Fairy Tale of the Fishermen and the Fish” by Aleksander Pushkin in which Gold Fish is fulfilling the wishes and requests of an old fisherman, dictated by his wife, as a form of gratitude after the fisherman initially caught and then released it. In the Pushkin’s story, the fisherman’s wife’s appetite for more of things and social status, is gradually increasing, as each of her desires is fulfilled by the magic of the Gold Fish, and as she becomes more and more estranged from her husband, who devoutly transforms all her desires to the Gold Fish, despite being more and more neglected by his wife’s vices. The wife becomes first a moderately well off merchant wife, then a noblewoman, then a court lady, until finally she is left with nothing, after demanding to be a Sea Queen with the Gold Fish as her loyal servant. By quoting a biblical story of a St. Peter Fish as an inspiration, in which Jesus Christ’s control of the world of sea creatures is accentuated, when Jesus correctly predicts that the next fish St. Peter will pull form the water will carry a shekel coin in its mouth, when St Peter needs to pay the tax collectors, Kir is provocatively suggesting that Pushkin’s fairy tale is somewhat inspired/plagiarized from the Matthew’s Gospel. Yet, Kirk seems not judgmental here and instead focuses on interconnectedness between the two stories, contemplating on the loyalty and the commitment the fisherman had for his wife, despite her not being the best human being. Kir seems to implythat the eternal love of a fisherman for his wife, despite being continuously neglected and verbally abused, is a symbol of Jesis Christ’s eternal love for humanity and willingness to sacrifice his life for our sins despite humanity lack of reciprocation.

5. "Kir Fortress" seems to be a deeply personal work for Kir as he is painting a landscape with a Biblical Fortress called Kir (presently located in the city Kerak located in Jordan) that he claims are very topologically accurate, and thus trying to underline his own connection to the Biblical narrative as well as to the whole exhibition and Biblical series of works. It turns out, as Sergey Kir researched, that the story of the biblical Kir fortress has continued into the middle ages and into the times of Crusades, and even was portrayed in the famous Ridley Scott’s “Kingdom of Heaven” movie (which Kir claims to be ahuge fan of) where the main character Balian is leading a small gang of knights against the overwhelming forces of Salahuddin, while the local residents are escaping into the fortress called Kerak that was built by the First Crusaders right on the spot in Transjordan, where the original biblical Kir fortress once stood. The story is pretty engaging and fascinating.

6. "Consuming Fire" - and finally, the last work in this series, made in an abstract, neo-contemporary style is the depiction of the Consuming Fire, a detailed meticulously done work that, as Kir explains, is inspired by the biblical story of the spies, which Kir believes to be one of the most dramatic and illogical stories of the entire Bible. The work is referring to the story when, after miraculously escaping from Egypt, and after wandering for 12 months in the desert, the 12 tribes of Israel are finally on the banks of the river Jordan, ready to cross into the promised land, and send 12 spies into the land of Caanan to see what awaits them. The spies are coming back and 10 out of 12 claiming that crossing the river, to occupy the land, would be a suicide mission for Israelites, because Canaanites are powerful and strong. And that is after for 12 months the Almighty provided food, shelter, and protection from the wild beasts and snakes in the desert, performed miracles to convince the Pharaoh to let the Israelites go, and even made the waters of the Red Sea(Sea of Reeds) to split, allowing for a safe passage. And it is at this point that Moses pleads that God Almighty is the Consuming Fire, and will help Israelites, as He did many times before and that they must, after going through so much pain and suffering, cross the river and complete the mission they set to do. Yet, the tribes still refuse and that is when they are set for 40 more years of wandering in the desert, until all members of the generation are gone.

It is indubitable, the narrative behind Kir’s biblical series is thought-provoking, as he is trying to reinvent the ways Bible and biblical wisdom is accepted and can be reengaged in the contemporary narrative. And how could it not be? After all, we are talking about the Bible here, the most popular book on the planet and the most highly circulated book (estimated 1bln copies are currently printed)
But is Kir’s visual language on par with the story itself? Often it is, but not always. Kir’s usage of colors is somewhat limited, as his 2 favorite colors are palettes of red and blue and he seems to be neglecting other part so the palette, especially green. Because the works are made in digital form first and then printed on canvas or on metallic paper, some of the seductiveness and vibrancy visible on a computer screen is lessened, however the works still look great, with overall quality and finish of the works – all made using ultra-modern, sleek light-weight floating frames and finished with high precision and care.

Kir’s Biblical series of works invites the viewer to reexamine the interpretations of the Bible from the new points of view. As Kir goes through his own journey trying to find "unknowns" and new ways to attach meaning of the ages old Bible to the contemporary discourse (and carving a place in history of art for himself and his “Conceptivism” along the way) the viewer is welcomed to follow along on his own to discover the same or different. We are to realize through that journey that, the Bible is modern, current, cool and hip source of knowledge and wisdom, and should be part of everyone’s library. As regard Kir’s works? Well…, may be.

To find out for yourself, visit Kir’s social media, and you will be immersed into an interesting stories and ideas, at least, as well as undeniably a refreshing take on contemporary art.

@sergey_kir_art -

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