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Chimeras by Lena Hades
According to Lena Hades' conception,  a monstrous (and a comic at the same time) creature, composed of the parts of three animals (a bird, a snake, a donkey) and a human being.
On one hand these chimeras incarnate some human stereotypes, but on the other hand, these chimeras are the monsters who rule the human world.
Lena Hades painting
Chimera of the Orthodox Church, 120x100 cm, oil on canvas, 2012.
(collection of V.Bondarenko)
The Four Chimeras of the Russian Apocalypse --
the Chimera of the Orhtodox Church,
the Chimera of the Justice, 
the Chimera of the State and
the Chimera of the Law Enforcement:
Sleeping mind gives birth not to monsters, but to chimeras.Chimeras are stereotypes and stamps that do not really exist, but they have engrained in our imagination. Chimeras replace fables in the social conscience. Here is the Chimera of the Mysterious Russian Soul (chimera babies of other national souls have happily choked in their chimeric eggs not even having hatched), the Chimera of an American Dream, the Freedom, Equality, Brotherhood Chimeras, the Chimera of the Scientific and Technical Progress, the Bolshevism Chimera, the Capitalism Chimera, the Chimera of the Early Russian Capitalism, High Fashion Chimera, Sexual Revolution Chimera, Freedom Chimera, Big-time Politics Chimera, Justice Chimera, Geopolitics Chimera and many other Chimeras.The society has lost its freedom, equality and brotherhood already long ago – though did they really exist?! – but a chimeric monster with three heads, like Zmey Gorynych from a Russian fairytale, is alive for already over two centuries.
“Don’t you dare depict the Freedom, Equality and Brotherhood Chimeras, don’t you infringe upon our fundamental democratic values!”, a French acquaintance once told the author, and noticing ruffian light in the author’s eyes, added strictly “You won’t be allowed to France any more”.
The Chimera of an American Dream –
The Chimera of an American Dream: which person “having lived there” would not fall into a hypnotic trance today having looked into its blue-reddish starred and striped eyes?
The Chimera of the Scientific and Technical Progress:it hatched a century ago form the biggest chimeric egg. Having slightly pressed down its brothers and sisters with its powerful flattop body, having uttered the first in the humankind history “radio cheep” (it still for some reason called a “first radio signal”), it flew out of its nest at the supersonic speed. It is not merely irreal like its great-grandmother, it is tele-video-audio virtual.And who now knows exactly where the areal of human habitation is located?
May be, in the nest of the Scientific and Technical Progress Chimera? And a human being has just become its appendix? And in the best case, an infectious one? Something like Chlamydia Psittaci in the bird-like chimeric body affected by ornithosis*? In this case the “mission is possible” – all Chimeras choking with coughing and suffering from diarrhea will die of paralysis, and the public (read as “human”) consciousness will be freed from stamps, stereotypes and illusions. The humankind will awake at last!People! Sleeping mind gives birth to Chimeras.How long are you going to sleep?
* ORNITHOSIS – is an acute infectious diseases caused by clamydia; it is characterized by fever, general intoxication, lungs and nervous system damage, hepatomegaly and megalosplenia, head and muscle aches, pneumonia, diarrhea, bird paralysis. The ornithosis agent is Chlamydia psittaci.
by Doctor of Art History, Active Member of the Russian Academy of Arts Aleksandr Yakimovich
Works of Lena Hades are versatile and unique. She has paid much attention to her grotesque allegories recently. These works belong to the type or class that has already been long cultivated in the graphic and pictorial art. Such masters as William Hogarth, Francisco Goya, Honoré Daumier once created magnificent series of revealing and grotesque social and political caricatures. Their task and goal are to show public sore, moral lapse of their contemporaries and grisly condition of then existing public institutions. In Russia, this tradition of castigating grotesque was especially developed in literature, from Gogol to Mikhail Bulgakov. Satiric and revealing graphic and pictorial art of philosophical nature existed in pre-revolutionary Russia and were cultivated in underground art of the Soviet epoch. In the post-Soviet time this fine arts trend was developing rapidly bringing various consequences with it. Lena Hades occupies a conspicuous place among representatives of this development trend.Her grotesque allegories dedicated to social immorality, corruption, authorities’ hypocrisy and falsity, political demoralization and public moral degradation show such emotions as bitterness, anger and mockery. Distinct are those responses to social problems that may be expected from a normal person having the experience of existing in the Soviet time, during “perestroika” years and disintegration of the old political system, during last period of the country “freezing”. Normal decent people react with disgust and angry laughter to economic, authoritative, social and cultural defects in the life of modern Russia. This is a healthy response to deformities and diseases of the modern life of our country, and this is such response that may cure life of these pathologies....Lena Hades is an artist with acute social and political emotions and genuine sincerity talent. Her pictures shout loudly and frankly about “oppressive ugliness” and mean inclinations of particular circles of the Russian society. The public should be grateful to her for such position. The irony of the situation is that artists like Lena are poorly and rarely thanked for. The monsters and pithecanthropi depicted in her works would unfailingly outrage and blame her for parodying Russia, for cynicism, anti-State conspiracy and other sins. In other words, they shift their own moral deficiency onto the artist who depicts it openly and in its true colors. Such situation is familiar to the art historian. Artists of the past creating grotesque allegories were always accused of depravity, cynicism, blasphemy, antipatriotism by those denounced and exposes by artists with anger, contempt and laughter. If the cap fits, wear it.
“Chimera is for the first time mentioned in the sixth song of Iliad. It says that it had divine origin – it was lion-fronted and snake behind, a goat in the middle; it spewed fire out of its mouth… The head of a lion, the body of a goat and the tail of a snake – this is the most natural description of it created by Homer, however in Theogony by Hesiod it has three heads and this is the way it is depicted in the famous bronze statue from Arezzo dated V century. In the middle of the chine it has a goat head, on the one end of the body there is a snake head and on the other – a lion’s one. In the sixth song of Aeneid “a fire-breathing Chimera” is again mentioned… With time Chimera turns into the “chimeric” notion. The word is used to denote impossible and incongruous things. “A false idea, foolish fantasy”,–this is the way chimera is defined in the dictionary”. (Wikipedia)According to Hades, a false idea and foolish fantasy is the very conceptual system of the modern culture that often uses notions that cannot be defined precisely.For example, the notorious “mysterious Russian soul” mentioned by all foreigners coming to Russia - what is it? What does it look like?Why is it the Russian soul that is “mysterious”? “Early Russian capitalism” – what is it? What associative visual array does imagination of the typical person draw? What is Bolshevism? Capitalism? What is a sexual revolution and what does an “American dream” look like? What is philosophy?The artist who has succeeded in depicting Nietzsche’s philosophy rich in paradoxes and metaphors (today it is the only successful experience of the philosophic text visualization in the art history) has every right to deliver an artistic blow on the modern culture conceptual system itself.In one of her interviews, to the question “What do you find more primary - a work or an image?” Hades mentioned a word-image, her ability to “see” a word and lightness with which a word turns into a figurative image in her pictures. May be, such lightness of word evocation is somehow connected with the linguistic talent of the artist who can speak six European languages and can read in three ancient ones. She is not the first to embody words in pictures; for example, Christopher Wool in his Black Book Drawings also “writes” words, but does it in the detached and mechanical way, as if words existed in the form of graphemes only and had no image flesh at all.Hades sets another goal to herself – to come back to the notional flesh making a notion “alive”. Here she comes back to the “dead” and “life-giving” water of the Russian mythology saying that “dead” water put scattered parts of the body together, and “life-giving” water inspired life into the body. A notion body narrowed by the artist to the associative structure vivifies in the image of Chimera that like its ancestress from the Notre-Dame de Paris Cathedral is really ALIVE. One should not better view Hades’s Chimeras in reproductions - they should be viewed on the canvas itself when perceived graphical caricature of the image disappears and a person views an image in the picture as an ALIVE and LIVING object, as if the chimera ceased to be “a false idea and foolish fantasy” but became a REALLY alive creature not thought up by the artist, but existing in the nature.Hades’s chimeras are not an artistic and graphical series, they are something more, it is rather “chimeric art” - Ars Chimaera, meant to “undress” notions to the very conceptual “skeleton”, to its visual and associative structure.Chimeric art is not limited to the number of pictures and graphic works, it is inexhaustible, just as the number of notions used by a modern person. These are not only the Freedom, Equality, Brotherhood Chimeras, the Bolshevism Chimera, Capitalism Chimera, the Freedom Chimera, the Geopolitics Chimera, the Chimera of the Mysterious Russian Soul, the Chimera of the Early Russian Capitalism, the Chimera of the Scientific and Technical Progress (all of us being hostages of the latter), these are the Christianity Chimera, Faith Chimera, Orthodoxy Chimera, Market Chimera, Advertisement Chimera, as well – the “chimeric” list is endless: a modern person has a lot of chimeric toys…




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