Art Moscow 2016
The 2016 Fall art season is finally here with dozens of art fairs and exhibitions lined up. From Chicago to London, Berlin, Amsterdam and Moscow, host cities readied themselves to welcome numerous art lovers and collectors. This September the first destination of TAP was Moscow.
With every year more and more institutions dedicated to modern and contemporary art are appearing on the city’s art map, demonstrating the growing interest of collectors, investors and the general public.
Last year finally opened its doors the Garage Museum, designed by Rem Koolhaas. It followed by the Museum of Russian Impressionism, the design of which was realised by John McAslan + Partners in a converted building of the former Bolshevik chocolate factory. In addition, in early 2019 is due to open in Moscow a new V-A-C’s headquarter in the redesigned main building of GES2 power station built in 1907. V-A-C is currently restoring an historic palazzo in Venice, which will become a permanent exhibition and education space for the foundation at the 57th Venice Biennale in 2017.
One of the most anticipated events in Moscow for the contemporary art world was the 4th edition of Cosmoscow. The fair plays an important role in building a market and strengthening a community around contemporary art in Russia. This year 38 galleries filled the grand exhibition hall of the city’s Gostiny Dvor.
As part of Cosmoscow there was a non-commercial thematic exhibition of works from the Russian private collections, ‘Collector’s Eye’, and a charity auction ‘Off White’, supported by the Naked Heart Foundation and hosted by Christie's auction house. There was also an educational programme that included lectures, open discussions and workshops on topics such as collecting, artists’ patronage and art investment.
It was great experience to visit the Museum of Russian Impressionism, which opened in the summer of 2016 and is dedicated to collecting, preserving, interpreting and exhibiting a complex evaluation of Russian Impressionism and its contributors.
The exhibition spaces amount to over 1,000 square metres, arranged over three floors, with the permanent collection located on the ground floor and an expansive gallery for special exhibitions on the upper floors. The museum's first major project was a retrospective of the work of Ukranian-Jewish Arnold Lakhovsky, who studied at the studios of Ilya Repin in the early 20th century. Lakhovsky is revered by international art experts but is almost unknown in Russia.
When TAP visited the museum, the second project had just opened: Valery Koshlyakov’s solo show 'Elysium'. Koshlyakov is primarily known for large-scale paintings depicting monuments (such as the Kremlin) and places within Europe, transforming them into symbols of cultural heritage and politics. Koshlyakov explains the premise of the show:
The name of the project, ‘Elysium’, means traces of disappearances. It's a description of non-existence and habitats familiar to us, archaic images. Ruins described in the genre of Pompeii phantasmagoria, but not in the ancient deified nature. This is metaphor of spaces and architecture of various cities.
The exhibition provides a unique opportunity to feel the power and energy of the artist’s work and to enter the world of his imagination and time evaluation with the reference to Pompeii. The project is curated by Danilo Eccher, formerly director of the two largest museums of modern art in Italy – MACRO in Rome and Galleria d'Arte Moderna in Bologna.
Solo exhibitions by Valery Chtak and Stephan Balkenhol at the Moscow Museum Of Modern Art (MMOMA) also caught our attention. The Chtak show is a total installation within the museum space. Curated by Alexey Maslyaev, it is located over four floors and brings together works of various genres and techniques, the majority of which were created directly in the museum’s halls. Each element of the exhibition, having a compositional and meaningful completeness, belongs to a single symbolic system — a collection of witty phrases, aphorisms, common symbols, banalities and manifestations of mass and popular culture.
The celebrated sculptor Stephan Balkenhol’s show at MMOMA is the first in Russia to span the artist’s entire career. Balkenhol carves his sculptures from a wide range of woods, including cedar and fir, without any assistance. His human figures are never polished to waxy smoothness and artifice: like humans, they are not without imperfections.
The rough surfaces and cuts create a sense of a life force hidden inside the figures of seemingly apathetic humans—an evidence of the artist’s love of, and faith in, humanity. The artist and curator, Matthias Winzen, together adapted this major exhibition to the local context and exhibition space.
'Sculptures and Reliefs', also at MMOMA, continues a series of exhibitions exploring German contemporary art. The museum previously hosted the exhibition ‘The Paths of German Art from 1949 to the Present Day’ (2014), and a retrospective of Joseph Beuys, ‘Appeal for an Alternative’ (2012).
TAP was lucky to visit in the last few days 'The Russian Space' exhibition at the Multimedia Art Museum, Moscow. This project marks the 55th anniversary of man’s first space flight. In comparison with the exhibition ‘Cosmonauts – Birth of the Space Age’, which was on view at London’s Science Museum until March 2016 (our interview with the curator can be found here), this was an attempt to analyse how the concept of space as conceived by Russian philosophers, scientists, writers and artists in the early 20th century relates to Russian contemporary art. Curated by Olga Sviblova, ‘Russian Space’ unites in one exhibition the work of artists of the Russian avant-garde and scientists such as Konstantin Tsiolkovsky with that of Russian artists from the Khrushchev Thaw until the present day.