Sergey Sapozhnikov. Total Picture

15 Sep–20 Oct 2014
The Poldi Pezzoli Museum, Milan

Debut Italian exhibition of photographic works by the emerging Russian artist Sergey Sapozhnikov.

Curated by Francesco Bonami, the exhibition features a selection of photographs combining archival images of museum interiors, existing work from the V–A–C collection and a series of dynamic new photographic works shot during Sapozhnikov’s residency at the museum.

In his already well-known works, Sergey Sapozhnikov presents human figures in unusual poses and strange surroundings, twisted in mid-leap or caught in tree branches set in empty fields or in the depths of a forest. These photographs, reminiscent of stills from arthouse cinema, each have their own story. Young people are homing in on the outskirts of Rostov-On-Don, the artist’s hometown, or in the backyards and premises of residential houses, transforming unprepossessing scenes into fantastical spaces with the help of cheap readily-available materials — bright inflatable mattresses, food packaging, gaudy rags, sticky tape, old lids, wooden joists with peeling paint and rusty metal mesh. Bringing an imaginary world to life, they are to some extent investigating its physical laws and, overcoming the forces of gravity, discovering new possibilities in their own bodies, expressed through photographic means.

The new work produced by Sapozhnikov for the exhibition is a result of the artist’s total immersion in his surroundings. It's a series of photographs of the museum interiors, in which he plays with detail, proportion and light, together with shots of an architectural structure set up at the foot of the grand staircase, inspired by Russian avant-garde traditions. This modern day ‘invasion’ of a classical space offers Sergey Sapozhnikov’s revolutionary take on Poldi Pezzoli’s fascinating interiors and collection of paintings, decorative arts and artefacts.

A catalogue featuring texts by the curators Francesco Bonami, Giovanna Bertazzoni and Yelena Yaichnikova will be published by V–A–C to accompany the exhibition.

The exhibition is under the patronage of the Lombardian Regional Authorities, the Municipality of Milan, the Milan Chamber of Commerce, the General Consulate of the Russian Federation and the Italy-Russia Association.

In recent times, contemporary photography, indulging in digital technology, has merged into painting and thus confused its identity. I believe that Sergey Sapozhnikov is one of the few in the current generation of photographers to resist this temptation and yet still focus on photography’s painterly nature. Indeed, the Poldi Pezzoli project has made his vision even clearer.

– Francesco Bonami, curator

The Poldi Pezzoli Museum is a non-profit organisation (ONLUS) founded and opened in 1881 by the collector Gian Giacomo Poldi Pezzoli (1822 -1879). It is one of the most significant house-museums in Europe and shows the taste of one of the finest 19th Century collectors. The aristocratic home of the nobleman Gian Giacomo Poldi Pezzoli serves as a frame for an impressive collection of Renaissance Italian paintings, but also for a unique collection of decorative arts, namely porcelain, glasses, textiles, clocks, jewellery and metalworks. The Museum, recognized by the Italian State as a national treasure, specializes in the history of collecting, as well as in educational activities and organising exhibitions in Italy and abroad. Poldi Pezzoli Museum runs the Milan House Museum circuit.