International Art Project

Radical Fluidity. Grotesque in Art

December 7, 2018 – February 17, 2019

The Museum of St. Petersburg Art (20th–21st centuries), a branch of Central Exhibition Hall Manege, is pleased to announce the opening of an International Art Project Radical Fluidity. Grotesque in Art, that will run from December 7, 2018 till February 17, 2019. The exhibition is the first attempt at artistic research into the topic of grotesque within the museum space.

Grotesque in art will be shown through the prism of more than 100 artists from Russia, France, Italy, Germany, Belgium, United Kingdom, USA, China and other countries. Is grotesque an artistic paradox, phantasmagoria of imagery or an idiosyncratic, exaggerated perception?

The project curators encourage the visitors to trace modifications that the grotesque topic has undergone throughout centuries, to see the legacy of, say, Bosch, Arcimboldo, or Goya emerge in the 20th century art. How can nightmare and monstrosity be transformed into the beauty of artistic forms, and an ideal turn into spiritual brokenness?

300 oeuvres, including paintings, graphics, sculpture, objects, installations, video art, photography, collage by renowned masters and young ambitious artists, will occupy the entire space of the Museum. Four storeys of exhibition halls plus flights of stairs, the inner yard and even the adjacent Griboedov canal embankment will become an artistic Labyrinth of Grotesque.

Visitors will be attracted and invited to participate in the unique monstrosity festival by a peculiar PapaWok public-art object floating in Griboedov canal right in front of the Museum entrance.

A rare opportunity to plunge into a dizzying, paradoxical, irrational world of art abounding with creativity and bizarreness, presents itself to the visitor, be it flight over the city on board a carrousel “ship” (Natalya Nesterova. People Riding the Carrousel, 1988), ecstatic dance in a metaphysical space (Igor Novikov. Prophet, 2014), Hamlet’s mystical tower stuck all over with headless creatures (Viktor Vilner. Hamlet’s Tower. From the series Islanders. 2001), or appalling witches’ sabbath (Tatyana Nazarenko. Meal, 1992), in whose dreadful land even fountains bleed (Aleksandr Shishkin-Hokusai. Venus Tauride, 2018). No one will be surprised by a female portrait with snails on the lady’s head (Viktor Danilov. Lady with Snails, 2002), human faces made of fruit and vegetables (Aleksandr Zadorin. Triptych, 2005), or Eve nestling down in a salad bowl (Oleg Godes. Sleeping Eva. Sketch of a Salad Bowl, 1994).

The artists from abroad offer interpretations along similar lines, with history, fiction and reality strangely intertwined. In the works by Noriko Okaku, Christophoros Katsadiotis and Filippos Tsitsopoulos, images of the past come alive and fit in today’s reality, while Gao Bo (Tibet, Mask. 1993-1995) shows real characters as ritual masks. Fitting the atmosphere is Schopenhauer’s mystical eye, apparently inspired by streaks of irrationality and grotesque in his life (François-Xavier Delmeire. Schopenhauer, 2017).

The Project being essentially interactive, the visitors will be engaged in master classes and performances. Apart from the exhibition, there will be films, shows and theatre presentations in the inner yard and exhibition halls, as well as a series of lectures on grotesque and satire in art, seen from a broad perspective.

The Project is organized under the patronage of the Committee of Culture of St. Petersburg and Consulates General of the participating countries. The exhibition features artworks from leading museums, art galleries and private collections. Among the major contributors are The Museum of St. Petersburg Art (20th–21st centuries), The State Russian Museum, The State Museum Exhibition Centre ROSIZO, The Museum of Non-Conformist Art, Anna Nova Art Gallery, Marina Gisich Gallery, The Novy Museum of Aslan Chekhoev, NAMEGALLERY, ARTSTORY Gallery and Galerie Iragui.