Exhibition Preview: Gaiety is the Most Outstanding Feature of the Soviet Union: art from Russia, Saatchi Gallery, London, November 21 2012 – May 5 2013
© Sergei Vasiliev. Image courtesy Saatchi Gallery
Given its rapid transition in the last twenty years, it’s not surprising that these images of modern Russia sometimes make for uncomfortable viewing.
A group of 18 contemporary Russian artists have joined forces to create paintings, photography, sculpture and installations that reflect on the current complexities of life in Russia, the breakup of the Soviet Union and the Perestroika years. Most of the artists are emerging young talents, rarely shown internationally before.
The exhibition, which takes its name from a speech made by Stilin in 1936, presents Boris Mikhailov’s photographic piece, Case History, which plays a key role in explaining Russian history through a documentation of Mikhailov’s hometown of Kharkov following the disintegration of the Soviet Union.
© Boris Mikhailov. Image courtesy Saatchi Gallery
Many of the political works in this series play on Russia’s tradition of rich humour and jokes to cover the trauma experienced by citizens. Others show influences from modern art in Russia such as Ilya Kabakov, Malevich and Rodchenko.
Liudmila Konstantinova, in particular, gives an indication of how contemporary art in the country has progressed. One of her pieces, Icicle, is a sculpture bursting with bright colours and various shapes along with Gosha Ostretsov’s futuristic cartoon strip, Sex and The City.
“Their art is multifocal and transcendent, poetic and hypocritical, politicized and romantic,” says Dimitri Ozerkov, the Director of the Contemporary Art Department of the State Hermitage Museum, St Petersburg.
“It is probably the most global art in the world, but still very much related to its origins.”
- Open Monday-Sunday 10am-6pm. Admission Free. Follow the gallery on Twitter @saatchi_gallery.
© Dasha Shishkin. Image courtesy Saatchi Gallery
© Vikenti Nilin. Image courtesy Saatchi Gallery
© Valery Koshlyakov. Image courtesy Saatchi Gallery