Tretyakov Gallery opens "The Essence of Life -- The Essence of Art"
A new exhibition offers a glimpse into the creative processes of artists working under the oppressive regimes of Eastern Europe and the Soviet bloc.
The TretyakovGallery opened "TheEssence of Life -- The Essence of Art," an exhibition of drawings, prints and photographs from Eastern Europe and the former Soviet bloc. In the 1970s and 1980s, denied the chance to exhibit their works publicly, the artists featured in "Essence" never knew what the others were up to. But they all approached making art as an act of critical reflection.
"Essence" was curated by Sarajevo-born artist Jadran Adamovic. At Monday`s opening, Adamovic said he felt an intellectual affinity for artists of the Moscow Conceptualist school, such as Ilya Kabakov and Erik Bulatov, when he first encountered their works at exhibitions in Italy in the 1980s. Later, the common experience of living through the disintegration of socialism strengthened this bond. "We all studied the Russian avant-garde," Adamovic said. "We all witnessed big changes."
"Essence" presents works in a number of different genres and media, ranging from abstract prints by Croatian Julije Knifer to sketches of satirical sculptures by the Russians Alexander Kosolapov and Leonid Sokov. The two Russian artists drew on their Soviet academic training in monumental art in order to make the subversive Sots art pieces. Kosolapov`s revision of "The Worker and the Collective Farm Girl" by Vera Mukhina, which once stood by VDNKh and is prominently featured in the opening of old Mosfilm movies, replaces the heroic heads with those of Mickey and Minnie Mouse. In Sokov`s "Meeting of Two Sculptures," Lenin extends a hand to greet a spindly figure done in the style of 20th-century sculptor Alberto Giacometti