The first UK group exhibition of two art movements that emerged during last decade of the Soviet Union, and went on to change the face of contemporary art in Russia.
Their artworks were once the backdrops for underground rock concerts - now they have moved into museums. Calvert 22 Gallery presents the first UK exhibition of two Russian underground movements started by the visionary artist Timur Novikov.
In the early 1980s, during the last decade of the Soviet regime, the New Artists Group was founded and began making their wild paintings influenced by German Expressionism, Pop Art and Primitivism. First operating out of a communal flat and then an old apartment, they held a series of influential exhibitions, gigs, screenings and parties. Working collectively and without boundaries they combined fine art with youth culture, music, cinema, fashion and performance. Artists such as Sergei ‘Afrika’ Bugaev became a cult figure for his part in the art-house film - Assa, whilst painters such as Oleg Kotelnikov created free, heavily brush stroked paintings.
In 1989, during a critical time of political, ideological and economic transition in Soviet Russia, Novikov started a second influential movement, the New Academy, a movement that sought to encourage a return to the classical ideals of ancient Greece. Dressed as dandies with frock coats and velvet dresses, the artists searched out classical music and rare brooks, organising exhibitions during the 1990s that celebrated classical ideals of beauty and physical perfection.
New Academy works flirted with sexual ambiguity and homoeroticism. Although guarded about his own sexual orientation, Georgy Guryanov created heart-stoppingly beautiful, eroticized drawings and paintings of athletes, sailors and soldiers. And flamboyant performance artist Vlad Mamyshev Monroe used himself as a canvas, dressing up and impersonating historical characters including Marilyn Monroe.
Club of Friends showcases the work and life of an extraordinary generation of figures whose experiments in art, collective creative practice and sexual representation remain ground-breaking to this day.
Works on display include textiles, film, paintings, graphics, costumes and music from extraordinary video works such as Ventslova's highly kitsch Mireille (1995) to Timur Novikov’s flag-like fabric pieces.
Moving between art forms, many of the artists participated in the legendary experimental rock scene with Pop Mechanica and in particular with the band Kino for which Novikov was a designer. Ephemera on show includes posters, autographs, photographs, club flyers and album covers that chart their relationship with international artists such as Brian Eno, Andy Warhol and John Cage.
Coming to the UK for the first time, this exhibition maps the untold story of Russia in the 1980s and 1990s, showcasing two important movements that changed the face of contemporary art in Russia today.
The exhibition is organised in collaboration with the Moscow Museum of Modern Art.
The exhibition is part of the official programme of the UK-Russia Year of Culture, the largest ever showcase of cultural projects to take pace More than 250 events across culture, science, education and sport are planned for both countries throughout the year.
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Notes to editors
About Calvert 22 Gallery
Calvert 22 Gallery is the UK’s only not-for-profit institution dedicated to the presentation of contemporary art from Russia and Eastern Europe. It presents a dynamic programme of exhibitions, talks and cross-disciplinary events with both emergent and established artists
Founded in 2009 by Nonna Materkova, a Russian-born, London based economist, Calvert 22 Gallery aims to be a significant voice on the international cultural landscape, gathering the most active voices from the region to investigate current directions in artistic practice and theory relating to the 'former East'.
The gallery is a project of the Calvert 22 Foundation, an organisation dedicated to the contemporary art and culture of Russia and Eastern Europe. The foundation is active in four main areas — art, culture, research and learning — each of which has its own specific project. The strategic partner of Calvert 22 Foundation is VTB Capital.
VTB Capital, the Investment Business of VTB Group, is one of the three strategic business arms of VTB Group, along with the corporate and retail businesses. Since its foundation in 2008, VTB Capital has taken part in more than 300 ECM and DCM deals, which were instrumental in attracting more than USD 125.5bn worth of investments to Russia and CIS.
VTB Capital offers a full range of investment banking products and services, focusing on arranging operations in the debt, equity, global commodities markets, developing investment and asset management, advising clients on M&A and ECM deals in Russia and abroad.
According to Dealogic, 2011 league tables show that VTB Capital is #1 Equity and Bond bookrunner in Eastern Europe, as well as #1 financial advisor to Russia and the CIS M&A by deal value.
In 2011 and 2012 VTB Capital research team was ranked #1 in Thomson Reuters Extel Survey and Institutional Investor All-Russia Investor Survey.
VTB Capital operates in Moscow, London, Singapore, Dubai, Hong Kong, Sofia, Kiev, New York, Paris, Vienna with headquarters in Moscow.
Moscow Museum of Modern Art
The Moscow Museum of Modern Art is the first state museum in Russia that concentrates its activities exclusively on the art of the 20th and 21st centuries. Since its inauguration, the museum has expanded its strategies and achieved a high level of public acknowledgement. Today the museum is an energetic institution that plays an important part in the Moscow art scene.
MMOMA was founded on 15 December 1999, thanks to the generous support of the Moscow City Government’s department of Culture. Its founding director was Zurab Tsereteli, President of the Russian Academy of Arts. His private collection of more than 2,000 works by important 20th century masters formed the core of the museum’s permanent display. Later on, the Museum’s keepings were enriched considerably, and now it houses the largest and most impressive collections of modern and contemporary Russian art, which continues to grow through acquisitions and donations.
Today the museum has five venues in the historic centre of Moscow. The main building is situated in Petrovka Street, in the former 18th-century mansion house of merchant Gubin, designed by the renowned neoclassical architect Matvey Kazakov. Other exhibition venues include a vast five-storey building in Ermolaevsky Lane, a spacious gallery in Tverskoy Boulevard and the beautiful building of the State Museum of Modern Art of the Russian Academy of Arts. This year MMOMA celebrates it's 15 years anniversary with a special exhibition based around its collection.