12 May 2023 - 4 June 2023

Souths!de Grooven – Heavy Is the Head That Wears a Five-Skull Crown

A self-taught artist, who initially started out as a graffiti writer, SOUTHS!DE GROOVEN retains a connection to his Oirat* heritage through his art by incorporating elements of his native culture with subjects and themes based on his own living experience.

The use of post-soviet era imagery and references to western popular culture makes cultural assimilation a common thread in his body of work.

SOUTHS!DE GROOVEN has developed his own distinctive style of figurative painting and drawing. His artworks are not paintings in a traditional sense, but multilayered compositions assembled from glass and fiberboard sheets with images painted on them. This method adds depth to a painting, creating more of an “outside looking in” effect.

The artist uses glitch, distortion and fragmentation as tools to make his multilayered compositions more dynamic – an allegory of ever-changing nature of things portrayed in the work.

Visual language and symbols used in the artworks are heavily influenced by that of “Mongol zurag” art style and Tibetan thangka paintings. For example, the crown of five skulls mostly worn by wrathful deities in Buddhism; it represents the five main afflictions conquered and transmitted into the five wisdoms. The five skulls floating above SOUTHS!DE GROOVEN’s characters’ heads are loosely based on the powerful Buddhist symbol, they serve as an allegory of making the best out of a bad situation, improving no matter the circumstances.

* Descendants of Western Mongols, an ethnic minority living in China, Mongolia, Russia and Central Asia.