Tender Beast

Solo Show at The Lab Art Space

Curator Sharon Toval

In 2023, in his solo show at The Lab art space, Oleg Babich challenges the realm of experimental issues. A complex installation was developed from a series of illustrations recently published in his book “Tender Beast.” Its placement explores the meanings of human existence, among other things, delving into our thoughts on that “human naivety” that has faded over time. At what point did humanity go astray and arrive at the current existential distortion? Is it a distortion?

“The project began as absolute improvisation. I couldn’t foresee that it would encompass all my thoughts about the meaning of life. I just took black ink and paper and drew a line, and the line turned into a strange figure. Without planning or sketches, I drew one or two figures every day… improvisation, mind game, spontaneous illustration. Born as a humble series of doodles, the project has grown into a large installation that combines various mediums: sculptures, oil-painted cutouts, charcoal wall murals, paintings, and more,” according to Oleg.

The installation describes the rise and fall of fictitious human-like species, so different and yet so similar to us in many ways, who skip between life and death, evolution, survival, connection to nature, belief in higher forces, and the meaning of being. Oleg visits fantasy realms when “Adam”, the imagined prehistoric artist, half plant, half human, races on dinosaurs and is rooted in the tree of life. The critical stage in the story is when Oleg writes, “Then, everything went wrong.” Could the same step be the connection to the tree of knowledge?

The historian Yuval Noah Harari, who deals a lot with trying to understand human evolution by relying on historical processes, claims that we are at the end of a developmental process as a dominant Homo sapiens creature on earth. The artificial intelligence we developed is already a continuation of humanity in its hybrid forms. For better or for worse, technology will be assimilated into humanity as an evolutionary rebirth of man, perhaps while we are still alive.

Oleg discusses those human evolutionary leaps, such as the linguistic, agricultural, and scientific revolutions, and almost artificial intelligence, which distance man from nature.

Making of the “Tender Beast” Exhibition

Text by Sharon Toval

Photos from the exhibition by Youval Hai