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.
Curated by Ekaterina Andreeva.
The exhibition presents work by two groups of artists who emerged in St Petersburg in the 1980s and 1990s - the New Artists and the New Academy. Both movements were founded by artist Timur Novikov.
The New Artists
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.
The New Academy
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.
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.
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.
The exhibition is organised in collaboration with the Moscow Museum of Modern Art
Russia Visualised is a year-long presentation of visual arts and culture programming across London to celebrate the UK-Russia Year of Culture 2014. Leading galleries and museums contributing a rich variety of exhibitions and events to the Russia Visualised programme include Calvert 22 Gallery, Tate Modern, The Photographers’ Gallery, the Science Museum, and the V&A.