Universe from Within. Valery Vatenin.

20 September — 18 November | 2018

Valery Vatenin (1933 –77) was among the leading painters of the 1960s – 70s. Nowadays, his works are in the collections of the most important museums of Russia, the State Russian Museum (St. Petersburg) and Tretyakov Gallery (Moscow), as well as in numerous museums and private collections of Russia, Japan, Italy, France and many other countries. Although he came to a tragic end as early as forty-four, his influence on the artistic tradition of Leningrad was conspicuous enough.

In his work, Vatenin combined the lyrical romanticism of the 1960s with the 1970s artistic idiom imbued with metaphor and allegory. The type of painting he created is an amalgamation, as it were, of different genres (portrait, landscape and still-life). The method that he called ‘synthetic realism’ gave its author a considerable freedom of expression necessary to reveal the profound meaning of his musing on the universe and mankind, often at variance with the stereotypes of Soviet art.

More than once was Vatenin a pioneer in artistic processes, ahead of his time and his contemporaries. No coincidence, he was among the initiators of the Eleven association of those artists who opposed their individuality to the officially approved perception of reality typical of Social Realism. The rooms of the 1972 and 1976 Eleven exhibitions could barely accommodate the spectators eager to see the art faithfully reflecting the spirit of the time.

Besides painting, Vatenin expressed himself in excellent drawings and watercolors; he is also the author of some monumental works. The present exhibition includes over fifty paintings, many of these unexhibited for several decades, which will demonstrate the various aspects of the talent of Valery Vatenin, the thinker and the poet of everyday life.


Caught in a Bind.

20 September — 18 November | 2018

The Museum of St. Petersburg 20th- and 21st Century Art and the Vita Nova Publishers present some forty drawings by renowned artists, such as Mikhail Shemyakin, David Plaksin, Mikhail Karasik, Valery Mishin, Mikhail Gavrichkov, Alexander Traugott and many others, illustrating various events, both tragic and ridiculous, described by Russian twentieth-century authors. 

The spectator will see Russia in all its manifestations, seen through the eyes of St. Petersburg artists who entered in a dialogue with prose-writers and poets, e.g. Leonid Andreev, Evgeny Zamyatin, Yuri Olesha, Vasily Shukshin, Sergey Dovkatov, Alexander Galich, Vladimir Vysotsky and Daniil Granin.

One of the main topics of the exhibition works is the everyday life of small towns and villages. This one can see in Alexander Andreev’s drawings and Mikhail Gavrichev’s watercolors showing various human types, men and women, typical of provincial Russia.

Another important topic, the eternal tragedy of the individual opposed to the hostile world, is the subject of a number of works at the exhibition, e.g. Vasily Golubev’s illustrations for Moscow-Petushki by Venedikt Erofeev, an attempt to grasp the suffering of an individual, talented although down-and-out, and express it through the entwinement of the lofty and the low.

Many of the works deal with the idea of the absurdity of Communist ‘achievements’, e.g. illustrations for We by Evgeny Zamyatin (Valery Mishin), Chevengur by Andrey Platonov (Svetlana Filippova), Envy by Yuri Olesha (Mikhail Karasik), Moscow-2042 by Vladimir Voinovich (David Plaksin). They are fraught with grotesque irony, as, for example, in the depiction of a general with orders and medals from head to toe, the saxophone player near a frontier post or Lenin as a background for sausage advertisement.

The life of Soviet people, as depicted in some of the illustrations, is reminiscent of Dante’s Divine Comedy, with Inferno, Purgatory and Paradise with Comrade Stalin as its ruler (cf. Journey into the Whirlwind by Evgenia Ginsburg).

As the name of the exhibition suggests, plots never disappear; they continue their existence in one form or other, in literature or visual arts, the writers and that artist drawing inspiration from each other’s works.


Celestials, Creators, Masterpieces…

20 September — 18 November | 2018

The Celestials, Creators, Masterpieces… exhibition includes works by five artists of different generations, Maria Kulagina, Irina Starzhenetskaya, Pavel Nikonov, Lev Tabenkin and Leonid Tishkov. They all have become an inseparable part of the history of twentieth-century art; their works are in the most important museums and private collections all over the world.

Five artists, five workshops. The idea of the exhibition, besides the demonstration of works of art, is to reproduce the atmosphere of a workshop where they were created.

A special section is devoted to photos by Raul Skrylev, showing the artists in Moscow workshops. One can compare the artists’ real workshops and those re-created at the exhibition.

Every exhibit, be it a huge installation, a sculpture or a piece of furniture, conveys the mysterious atmosphere of the artist’s creative laboratory. One of the goals of the exhibition therefore is to help the spectator perceive both each master’s individuality and the specific atmosphere in which it was formed.

The spectator has a unique opportunity to move from one workshop to another, and to see the difference in the approach to styles, techniques and work of art generally. The ‘destination’ is the workshop of Leonid Tishkov, a visionary and creator of fictitious worlds. Unlike his colleagues, Maria Kulagina, Irina Starzhenetskaya, Pavel Nikonov and Lev Tabenkin, who adhere to more traditional forms, Tishkov creates visual performances inhabited by fantastic creatures. His workshop is a home of a modern fantasist where once can encounter various kinds of ‘Dabloids’.

At this exhibition, the artist is the chief participant of the visual action. Some become creators, others celestials, and each of the masterpieces deserve the spectators’ special attention.