Modernikon. Contemporary Art from Russia

23 Sep 2010–27 Feb 2011
Fondazione Sandretto Re Rebaudengo, Turin

V–A–C in collaboration with Fondazione Sandretto Re Rebaudengo (Turin) are delighted to present a major exhibition of Russian contemporary art, entitled Modernikon, curated by Francesco Bonami and Irene Calderoni.

Modernikon explores Russia’s young and still evolving art scene of today, presenting the public with the newest artistic research from a country that has only recently presented itself on the international art scene. The contemporary art system in Russia was formed in the 1990s, concurrent with the extreme political and social upheaval following the collapse of the Soviet Union. Many artists at that time considered art to be an instrument of social reform, a means with which to directly address the reality that had come out of the great traditions of their avant-garde history. The new art had political connotations and a radical aesthetic and was characterised by a taste for provocation and scandal.

Today, contemporary art in Russia has entered a new phase, as one of Russia’s most interesting and influential artists Anatoly Osmolovsky has stated. The idea of artistic practice as a form of direct action has paved the way for a more reflective approach that focuses more on the work of art itself, reconsidering its modernist inheritance and ambitions of social and aesthetic reform.

The title of the exhibition, Modernikon, merges its reference to the modern with the most classical of Russian art forms; it is a word that is suspended between the present and the past, between the idea of an image that aims to transmit all things new and, at the same time, the mythology of an outdated cultural trend.

Modernikon features the work of 20 artists, some of whom are already established on the international art scene and others still emerging. All the participants work with a wide range of media, from painting and sculpture to video, photography and installation. As well as previous works, many new pieces have been especially commissioned for the project.

Alexandra Galkina, Yakov Kazhdan, Anna Parkina, David Ter-Oganyan employ recognisable artistic techniques from Suprematism, Constructivism and Soviet cinema to speak about current political and social issues in a completely new figurative language. Olga Chernysheva, Sergey Bratkov and Alina Gutkina use different narrative means and tools to create an image-document, questioning the reality of post-Soviet society, youth subcultures and everyday life, questioning its authenticity and themselves. Arseny Zhilyaev symbolically summarizes these processes: by constructing a memorial archive of the radical 1990s, he creates a mythology of artists of the past and at the same time opens up a new space for discussion and revolutionary creativity. 

Modernikon is presented at La Casa dei Tre Oci, an architectural landmark in Venice built in the early 20th century and characterised by its archi-acuti ("the three eyes") windows. The palazzo was designed in 1913 by Mario De Maria (Marius Pictor) as his home and studio space. La Casa dei Tre Oci reopens with this exhibition, following a lengthy restoration period. Fully illustrated catalogue of the exhibition will be published, including texts by Francesco Bonami, Irene Calderoni, Andrey Parshikov, Francesca Sforza, Dmitry Pimenov, Anatoly Osmolovsky and Arseny Zhilyaev.

Participating artists
Victor Alimpiev, Alexandra Auerbakh, Sergey Bratkov, Olga Chernysheva, Alexandra Galkina, Dmitri Gutov, Alina Gutkina, Obledenenie Arkhitektorov (Iced Architects) group, Yakov Kazhdan, Elena Kovylina, Andrey Kuzkin, Vladimir Logutov, Anatoly Osmolovsky, Anna Parkina, Pavel Pepperstein, Anastasia Ryabova, Sergey Sapozhnikov / Albert Pogorelkin, Stanislav Shuripa, David Ter-Oganyan and Arseny Zhilyaev