An oligarch’s museum to the Giardini: Where to find Russian art in Venice

installation-view-recyle-group-blocked-content-2017

installation-view-recyle-group-blocked-content-2017

Courtesy of the artist and the Russian Pavilion
The Venice Biennale opened to the public on May 13. Hundreds of other exhibitions were launched throughout the city and adjoining islands. "Russia’s presence this year is larger than ever!" the commissioner of the Russian Pavilion in Venice, Semyon Mikhailovsky, says. From the biennale's main show, Viva Arte Viva, created by Christine Macel, to the exhibitions of Jan Fabre and Glasstress, co-curated by Dmitry Ozerkov, head of contemporary art at the Hermitage.

Russian Pavilion: The Giardini

Until Nov. 26

Installation by Grisha BruskinInstallation by Grisha Bruskin. Courtesy of the artist and the Russian Pavilion
Installation by Grisha Bruskin\nInstallation by Grisha Bruskin. Courtesy of the artist and the Russian Pavilion
Installation by Grisha Bruskin\nInstallation by Grisha Bruskin. Courtesy of the artist and the Russian Pavilion
Installation by Grisha Bruskin\nInstallation by Grisha Bruskin. Courtesy of the artist and the Russian Pavilion
Installation by Grisha Bruskin\nInstallation by Grisha Bruskin. Courtesy of the artist and the Russian Pavilion
Installation by Recycle Group\nInstallation by Recycle Group. Courtesy of the artist and the Russian Pavilion
Installation by Recycle Group\nInstallation by Recycle Group. Courtesy of the artist and the Russian Pavilion

The Russian Pavilion at the 57th Venice Biennale in the Giardini Gardens is very interesting this  year. A new commissioner means that the rules are new too. Semyon Mikhailovsky, who this year took over the post of commissioner from Stella Kesaeva, has invited as many as three artists to take part - Grisha Bruskin, the Recycle Group, and Sasha Pirogova, as well as three composers - Dmitri Kourliandski (Dmitry Kurlandsky), Peter Aidu, and Konstantin Dudakov-Kashuro, who have written music for the Russian show, which is titled Theatrum Orbis. And even though each of the artists had their own curator, the result is an all-in-one and coherent show. The exhibition invites the viewer to experience an apocalyptic world in the multi-figure sculptural installation of renowned Grisha Bruskin; then to plunge into the digital Dantesque Hell of the Recycle Group (the Blocked Content installation contains sculptures that can only be seen on the "thermal imager" screen of a smartphone via a special program); and finally to experience enlightenment and rebirth in the melancholy video of Sasha Pirogova.

Man as Bird. Images of Journeys: Palazzo Soranzo Van Axel

Until Sept. 5

Man as Bird. Images of Journeys. / Palazzo Soranzo Van Axel\nMan as Bird. Images of Journeys. Palazzo Soranzo Van Axel. Source: Alan Vouba
Man as Bird. Images of Journeys. / Palazzo Soranzo Van Axel\nMan as Bird. Images of Journeys. Palazzo Soranzo Van Axel. Source: Alan Vouba
Olga Shishko, Mikhail Baryshnikov, Marina Loshak\nOlga Shishko, Mikhail Baryshnikov, Marina Loshak. Source: Alan Vouba
Man as Bird. Images of Journeys. / Palazzo Soranzo Van Axel\nMan as Bird. Images of Journeys. Palazzo Soranzo Van Axel. Source: Alan Vouba
Man as Bird. Images of Journeys. / Palazzo Soranzo Van Axel\nMan as Bird. Images of Journeys. Palazzo Soranzo Van Axel. Source: Alan Vouba
Man as Bird. Images of Journeys. / Palazzo Soranzo Van Axel\nMan as Bird. Images of Journeys. Palazzo Soranzo Van Axel. Source: Alan Vouba
Man as Bird. Images of Journeys. / Palazzo Soranzo Van Axel\nMan as Bird. Images of Journeys. Palazzo Soranzo Van Axel. Source: Alan Vouba
Man as Bird. Images of Journeys. / Palazzo Soranzo Van Axel\nMan as Bird. Images of Journeys. Palazzo Soranzo Van Axel. Source: Alan Vouba

This is the first international show in the programme Pushkin Museum XXI put on by the famous Pushkin State Museum of Fine Arts in Moscow. Its aim is to broaden the activities of a traditional museum - the Pushkin is famous for its collection of Impressionists and Old Masters - by entering the field of contemporary art. Through multimedia works by 14 artists from Russia and other countries, the exhibition sends the viewer on a journey through the waves of memory. Here you can stand under the huge Moon of Leonid Tishkov, which has already travelled to various countries of the world, "ride" on a ghost ship in the video installation of Tanya Akhmetgalieva, or experience the "vibrating universe" in the sound sculpture of Yuri Kalendarev.

Space Force Construction: Palazzo delle Zattere

Until Aug. 25

Aleksandr Rodchenko. Workers’ Club, International Exposition of Modern Decorative and Industrial Arts, Paris 1925 replica constructed 2017 Wood\nAleksandr Rodchenko. Workers' Club, International Exposition of Modern Decorative and Industrial Arts, Paris 1925 replica constructed 2017. Wood. Source: Delfino Sisto Legnani
Kirill Gluschenko. Venets 2017 Installation: objects, book, postcards\nKirill Gluschenko. Venets 2017 Installation: objects, book, postcards. Courtesy the artist
Installation. View, Space Force Construction Including Liubov’ Popova, Spatial Force Construction, 1921, Oil on plywood, State Tretyakov Gallery Photo\nInstallation. View, Space Force Construction Including Liubov Popova, Spatial Force Construction, 1921, Oil on plywood, State Tretyakov Gallery Photo. Source: Delfino Sisto Legnani
Melvin Edwards. Corner for Ana 1970/2017 Barbed wire Courtesy of the artist and Alexander Gray Associates, New York Installation View, Space Force Construction\nMelvin Edwards. Corner for Ana 1970/2017 Barbed wire. Courtesy of the artist and Alexander Gray Associates, New York Installation View, Space Force Construction. Source: Delfino Sisto Legnani
El Lissitzky. Room for Constructive Art, Internationale Kunstausstellung (International Art Exhibition), Dresden 1926 replica constructed 2017 Painted wood, metal, and fabric Produced by V-A-C Foundation\nEl Lissitzky. Room for Constructive Art, Internationale Kunstausstellung (International Art Exhibition), Dresden 1926 replica constructed 2017 Painted wood, metal, and fabric. Produced by V-A-C Foundation. Source: V-A-C Foundation
Barbara Kruger. Untitled (Surrounded) 2017 Printed vinyl\nBarbara Kruger. Untitled (Surrounded) 2017. Printed vinyl. Courtesy the artist, Sprüth Magers and Mary Boone Gallery
Irina Korina. The Hall of Columns 2017 Installation (metal, wood, trees, mirrors, plastic, textile, paper, and acrylic paint) Produced by V-A-C Foundation Installation View, Space Force Construction\nIrina Korina. The Hall of Columns 2017 Installation (metal, wood, trees, mirrors, plastic, textile, paper, and acrylic paint) Produced by V-A-C Foundation Installation View, Space Force Construction. Source: Delfino Sisto Legnani
Sergey Sapozhnikov. Dance 2017 Commissioned by V-A-C Foundation\nSergey Sapozhnikov. Dance 2017 Commissioned by V-A-C Foundation. Source: Sergey Sapozhnikov

The V-A-C Foundation, owned by Russian oligarch Leonid Mikhelson, opened its permanent exhibition space in Venice at the Palazzo delle Zattere during the last biennale but only now is it presenting its first full-fledged exhibition after the renovation of the building. In addition to billionaire friends of the owner, President of the Venice Biennale Paolo Baratta attended the opening.

The exhibition Space Force Construction is a subtle interaction - in the style of all of the foundation's exhibitions - between old and new art. "Oh, it’s about the Russian Revolution!" is the most popular remark made by visitors greeted by the sight of a statue of revolutionary leader Vladimir Lenin in the lobby. Indeed, the artists of post-revolutionary Russia - from El Lissitzky and Mayakovsky to Rodchenko and Deineka - are responsible for the "old" art here. It is they who created images of the new state and influenced and continue to influence the development of art not only in post-Soviet space but also in the West. And the representatives of the "new" art here are Irina Korina, a participant in the main biennale show, Chinese artist Cao Fei, renowned American artist Barbara Kruger, and many other artists from around the world who have been inspired by images to do with revolution.

We Have Never Stopped Building Utopia: Ca' Foscari

Until July 29

We Have Never Stopped Building Utopia\nWe Have Never Stopped Building Utopia. Source: Valery Koshlyakov
We Have Never Stopped Building Utopia\nWe Have Never Stopped Building Utopia. Source: Valery Koshlyakov
We Have Never Stopped Building Utopia\nWe Have Never Stopped Building Utopia. Source: Valery Koshlyakov

The exhibition of Valery Koshlyakov, already a renowned figure in contemporary art, at Ca' Foscari is a continuation of sorts of his major show at the Moscow Museum of Russian Impressionism. In Moscow, the exhibition, in the autumn of 2016, occupied four museum floors. In Venice, the scale is much smaller, but here the magical glow of Koshlyakov's architectural paintings is reinforced by the medieval walls of the palazzo on the Grand Canal.

The artist launched his career in the 1990s and earned recognition thanks to his unique technique - he paints landscapes of ancient ruins and Soviet architectural heritage on huge sheets of corrugated cardboard, integrating symbols of modernity.

The three-dimensional effect and the scale of his works have been appreciated not just in Russia. Koshlyakov has also held exhibitions at the MACRO museum in Rome, while the Pompidou Center in Paris holds examples of his work.

His works on cardboard, as well as canvases dedicated to Italian architecture, will be on view in Venice until July 29.

Read more: Sergei Shchukin, the man who helped shape the fate of Matisse and Picasso

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