Main photo: “Hero” by Gurgen Petrosyan
Moscow traditionally attracts the best of the creative intelligentsia from Russia’s regions and neighboring countries. We decided to ask some modern artists who moved to Moscow from Armenia, Crimea and the Nizhny Tagil town about how they live and work in the capital, and what they think about the local art community.
Alexander Golynsky–Simferopol, Crimea
I moved to Moscow a year ago (2014–Ed.). The decision arose out of the circumstances surrounding Crimea, where I am originally from. In addition, Moscow is a very suitable city for creative activity where professional institutions of contemporary art exist and develop.
Now, my workshop is right in my apartment. Due to this fact, I came up with the idea of developing an art direction called “indoor art”, in parallel with my other projects.
On “Indoor Art”
Rental apartments are usually rented out with a certain amount of furniture, the objects and atmosphere of the previous tenants, which ultimately represents a kind of analogue for the exhibition space or the gallery. The idea is to consider the accommodation in such a place as the process of art creation, which has the range of instruments that begins with the artist’s mood and ends with the walls and spatial objects. The objective of the project is to create a timeless image from the most specific situation and consider a specific time as a process.
On art personalities
I don’t have any idols in art, but there are a number of artists whose work is very interesting to me. Thus, I consider the important artists of the 90s to be Oleg Golosii in painting and Dmitry Gutov in space creativity. Contemporary artists I admire are the French artist Pierre Huyghe and Anish Kapoor the sculptor.
On the first exhibition in Moscow
On February 13, Moscow’s new art space “Polygraphic ceh” will open with the debut exhibition CSI–the first exhibition project in Moscow with my participation. The exhibition is interesting precisely in its intention to metaphorically explore the depth of things and finding their place in space. There I will present my artwork Fragment. The idea is that I am turning the fragment of the exhibition area, namely one of the supporting columns, into the art object. I discover a fragment of space to show the internal structure of that space.
On how to survive in the Moscow art coterie
You have to be an artist, not just one who plays along, and you have to understand that your ideology is subjective, one-sided. Accordingly, there is a need to be open to people and believe those with whom you sympathize. Time isn’t the most valuable resource, but rather the potential.
Eva Arakcheeva–Nizhny Tagil, Russia
In 2009 I came to Moscow to visit and just at first sight fell in love with this city–full of life, movement and a certainly eventful art community. The decision was made instantly, and after graduation as a designer in Tagil, I left to study at V. Surikov Moscow State Academy Art Institute and I’m currently studying at the faculty of painting.
Moscow is an interesting and controversial city, full of important events of the past and the present, which makes you analyze and be more attentive to details. During my first few years here, I was curious to examine and sketch everything around–things that now I just automatically run through. I clung to the notion that I had to look for every moment of this city, trying to understand and represent them on paper and canvas.
But the most important thing in Moscow is the avalanche of art that falls on you once you become part of the art world. Museums, galleries, art exhibitions–all of it absorbs into the vortex of creativity, self-expression and interesting acquaintances.
The peculiarity of the city is yet in the atmosphere for collaboration. It is connected in my mind with the glut of events, information and abundance of names. Self-organization of artists, galleries, workshop type, exhibition and intervention–a characteristic feature of the city, revitalizing it.
On her workshop
At the moment I’m working in the studio at the Academy, where about 10 people work in addition to me. On one hand, such a neighborhood has its benefits: I watch other artists draw, pay attention to the advantages of their methods, as well as their mistakes. I do not allow myself to get plenty of rest, so if I feel a need to let my arms and legs rest, then I engage in mental labor. Next to the studio there is a great library, so that the whole history of art is nearby. While working on a picture or video, I often look through the albums of different artists, to refresh the look and force myself to go beyond the favorite of manners. Now is the time for experiments.
On personalities in art
I have many idols in art. It is difficult to determine and immediately give a few names. I feel equal delight about the Lorenzetti paintings, Caravaggio, Otto Dix, Bacon and Rauschenberg. I get the same pleasure from video art by Vito Acconci, Bill Viola and others. Among the Russian artists I appreciate Francisco Infante. But the most important in the current epoch for me is Anselm Kiefer. I had a chance to explore his work “Tempelhof” live at the exhibition “Against the World” in St. Petersburg, and I was conquered by the dramatic power of his art.
On her triptych Freedom
Freedom is a very important piece of work for me. I have pondered the idea and its possible embodiments, as well as the opportunities of the exposure for quite a long time. Now I will exhibit it in the CSI project, which, in my opinion, is interesting primarily thanks to the idea of uniting artists who, although working within different media-types and being so different and dissimilar, still can be combined by one thing–by the way of working on a piece of art.
One of the key issues that I care about is freedom. In general, the word “freedom”, our perception of it and the cliché thoughts that occur when we hear the word. This piece is not about freedom itself, but about the viewer who looks at himself at the very moment. As the method, I’ve chosen the irony of pop art.
In the pictures, the viewer sees the neon letters that promote “freedom”, and more than just that–these are English letters. Therefore, it seems obvious that these canvases are about the marketing promotion of the concept of freedom. If to believe the advertising, almost everything is supposed to give us freedom–from the iPhone to the Land Cruiser. Then the viewer sees quite a particular person in chains. And the critical message of the artwork becomes clear. The hero is posing for glamorous photos, and she seems to be dancing with chains. She likes to be tied by material values that were imposed on marketers–promising freedom.
For me, it is important to demonstrate that the mainstream, which we criticize in the arts or other activities, also takes place in perceptions and analysis. Polyptych Freedom ironizes itself, the audience, and even the artist. I hope that the visitor will glance deeper and will not see in this work just the problem of “freedom-restriction”, but will also see himself looking at the picture.
On how to survive in the Moscow art coterie
I will say the obvious: you need to be sincere and believe in what you’re doing. There should not be a more critical and jaded spectator of your work than yourself, even given the criticality of the Moscow audience.
There are quite enough opportunities to promote on your own behalf in Moscow. The main thing is the availability of tools: interesting ideas, implemented projects and activities. Creative people are overly immanent and tend to chew already-chewed food, whereas the secret of success lies in the perception of motion and exploring new experiences.
It’s very interesting to see how the two art institutions coexist in Moscow: academic and contemporary. I belong to both at the same time by getting an academic art education and having the experience of studying at the School of Contemporary Art’s “Free Workshops” and participating in the exhibitions of contemporary art. This symbiosis is useful because you need not only to be a professional, but also to understand the context in which you’re living and working.
Gurgen Petrosyan–Yerevan, Armenia
It’s already been five years since I began living and working in Moscow. I came here from Armenia, and Armenia, as you know, is a small country with a limited field of development. I did not want to stop on what I’ve reached thus far (at the age of 24 Gurgen Petrosyan was named the best young sculptor in Armenia, and at 27 received a silver medal from the Artists Union of Russia for his contribution to national culture–Ed.), so I decided to develop as an artist in Russia.
The atmosphere in Russia is quite motivating–many artists and big competition. I like the pace of life in Moscow. I think that for artists, it is a very nice city–exhibitions with local and foreign authors are hosted regularly, and creative life abounds.
On his workshop
My current workshop is located on Borisov ponds. It is my fifth studio here, and here I am again in search of something more comfortable. I work a lot: it is necessary, in addition to my own artwork, to carry out some client’s orders to pay the rent, buy materials and so on. Sculpting is an expensive pleasure.
I have already participated in a number of exhibitions in Moscow, and will soon open another one–CSI curated by Cyril Zhilkin. It is interesting from a conceptual point of view – it is a demonstration of the figure of a so-called detective-artist who is attentive to detail and has a professional flair. I have seen several works of art that will be exhibited in this project – they seemed very interesting to me. Also besides knowing Cyril, I’m sure everything will be at a high level.
On Scream–his own work with Francis Bacon
At the CSI exhibition I will present several works, one of which is called “The Scream”. While working on this sculpture I have not stopped thinking about one of my favorite artists, Francis Bacon, and his works of the series “Screaming Pope”. Bacon believed that while screaming, man fully reveals his animal nature.
I wanted to create a “Scream”. The emphasis in this work is done on the dynamics of the figure–I wanted to show a cry through the body to achieve maximum expressiveness. Generally, the physicality is one of the most exciting topics for me as an artist.
On how to survive in the Moscow art coterie
In my opinion, we must be able to communicate with people, be more sociable. But, of course, it depends on the artist–I believe that nothing valuable is given to a person easily; You have to struggle for such things, although it may sound pathetic.
The CSI exhibition opens on February 13 in the new art space in Moscow, “Polygraphic ceh”. Learn more about the event here.