Art Roundup – June 2012

Unlike my trip to Mexico that resulted in the Angelina Beloff post, my recent holiday in Dartmouth didn’t elicit any fresh discoveries in Russian art. On the other hand, some idle browsing on the web revealed that the world of Russian art exhibitions and expositions shows no sign of slacking. Even as we speak, we find that there are displays galore, covering entirely different periods, themes and genres.

For example, in Riga, at the Russian House  there is an exhibition of works (a) by “Russian Artists of Latvia“, illustration the Russian artistic tradition in that country between 1960 and 2012. According to Vladimir Kzhizhanovsky [1], the entire spectrum of illustrative and graphic art can be found: landscapes, still lifes, portraits, abstract expressions, philosophical compositions and book illustrations. In particular, he singles out three works by Nikolai Vasilyev, which are in the style of expressionist pointillism, suffused with a multilayered dynamic. He also welcomes the rarely seen Maris Abilevs whose works are distinguished by a restrained line and palette. Two works by Alla Koroleva (‘Rendezvous’ and ‘Portrait of the Artist’) symbolise an optimism that generated considerable discussion at the opening of the exhibition. Meanwhile, Nikolai Krivoshein’s mastery of freedom and freshness attract the eye, as do the long unseen works of Valery Shuvalov, whose romanticism was illustrated in three modes: still life, a genre painting, and a portrait, each reflecting a different period in the artist’s life and style. To round these off, we have three powerful, spiritually filled reflections on the eternal themes of life in the canvases of Grigory Mikheev; also finding their rightful place at the exhibition are the children’s book illustrations by the artist Vladimir Novikov.

Meanwhile, there are three (count ’em – three!) exhibitions of the Russian avant-garde in Moscow [2]. The first (b) is the collaborative project by the Gallery ‘Kovcheg’ and the State Mayakovsky Museum (celebrating its 75th anniversary) in which appear works by Altman, Kandinksy, Malevich, Burliuk, Tyrsa, Rozanova, Larionov, and so on and on. It demonstrates the richness of the tradition of the leftist art which is hardly overshadowed by the gigantic figure of the ‘agitator Mayakovsky’. Next, we have the Gallery ‘Proun’, which presents an exhibition (c) on the inner, domestic world of the Russian avant-garde: there are works by the ‘Amazons’ Nadezhda Udaltsova and Olga Rozanova, who were not above sketching handbags; furniture designed by Alexander Rodchenko for a workers’ club; Lilya Brik and Lilya Yakhontova’s curtains for a bedroom which they sewed from pieces of pre-Revolutionary calico and velvet, as though by a peasant woman stitching a quilt… And finally, there is a biographical exhibition (d) at the Multimedia Art Museum on Vasily Yermilov, friend of Khlebnikov and illustrator of his books ‘Ladomir’, leader of the Kharkov avant-garde between the 1920s and the 1960s. Besides his illustrative works will appear his photomontages, contrereliefs, and models of sculptures.

Exhibition List

a. Russian Art of Latvia, Russian House, 97 Tallinas, Riga, Latvia. Until 24 June 2012, open daily except Mondays.

b. Public Review, Gallery ‘Kovcheg’, 12 Nemchinova street, Moscow. Until 1 July, 2012.

c. The House that PROUN built, Gallery ‘PROUN’, No 1/6, 4th Siromyatnichesky pereulok, Moscow. Until 29 July 2012.

d. Vasily Yermilov (1884-1968), Multimedia Art Museum, 16 Ostozhenka street, Moscow. Until 29 July 2012, open daily except Mondays.


[1] Russian Art at the Russian House, by Vladimir Kzhizhanovsky, Chas, 31 May 2012.

[2] Muscovites to see the national avant-garde, Novaya Politika, 1 June 2012.

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