On view January 01 - January 31, 2015
Danja Akulin, Ivan Lebedev, Komar and Melamid, Mihail Chemiakin, Mikhail Magaril, Vladimir Nemukhin
One of the founding members of Moscow’s Lianozovo group in the 1950’s, Vladimir Nemukhin has spent the greater portion of his artistic career re-kindling ties with the Russian avant-garde. The abstract works of that era were perceived by the Soviet government as dangerous and “formalist,” thus were hidden from the public eye, and officially banned from being produced. In his work on paper Dedicated to the Suprematists from 1999 one sees the influence of the avant-garde in Nemukhin’s highly rigorous layering of angular geometric shapes in striking colors.
Danja Akulin’s large-format drawings, Soldiers, and his Untitled landscape straddle the line between lush figuration and minimalism. Each is composed of a single, repeated element—the graphite or charcoal line—in infinite configurations, coalescing into a vivid study of light and shadow. The elegant serenity of Akulin’s compositions belies the labor-intensiveness involved in their creation.
An affinity for the timeless and universal is expressed on a large scale by Mihail Chemiakin, whose artistic output often relays his constant search for beauty and interest in the history of ancient civilizations. The gallery presents an early example from his Bottle series, wherein heavy layers of encaustic paint create a rich, textured surface manifesting as an ancient object whose proportions appear tied to those of the human body.
The founding fathers of Sots Art—the Soviet Union’s equivalent of Pop Art, Vitaly Komar and Alexander Melamid, inject their own brand of absurdity and humor into the exhibition. Known for appropriating the bombastic and falsely celebratory aesthetic of Social Realism and the silkscreen technique of Andy Warhol, the duo lend their satirical vision to the diptych Urban Angels, a rare edition on rusted steel based on their mural commissioned by First Interstate World Center in Los Angeles.
Both individually and as a collaborative pair, Ivan Lebedev and Mikhail Magaril present their own iteration of Sots Art in a way that pokes fun of Russia’s political landscape, past and present. Taking their cues from the rebellious aesthetics and satirical playfulness of British and American Pop-Art of the 1960’s, Magaril and Lebedev’s Wrester series plays with collectible postcard images of Soviet wrestlers. Blown up onto a set of foiled panels, and embellished with colorful accessories, they stand as both representations and parodies of the aggressive masculinity of the current autocracy.