“The Gifts” – Shchusev Architecture Museum
Festival “The Gifts” is timed to the celebration of Christmas and the Christian artists and has been organized by community of Christian artists “Artos”. In the space of the exhibition icons, mosaics, sewing, stone carving, sculpture, architectural designs and models,
calligraphy, paintings and installations are combined together.
“Like the Magi, we seek to bring our gifts to the Savior, born in the world,—says one of the festival’s curators Sergei Chapnin.—Each of us brings them in the measure of one’s talent and the extent of one’s understanding. The main thing here is not only an offering
itself, but also the intention, the heart’s desire. Artistic languages which we speak are extremely different, but the theme of utterances is one—bringing gifts for the creation and understanding of sacred space, which is the purpose of the festival. In this space it collates
iconographic images, modern church architecture and art which comes from behind liturgic borders and yet addresses to religious subjects and searches.”
A dialogue between the Church and contemporary art has been the subject of special interest of another art curator Gor Chahal for ten years. During this time he participatedin organization of series of roundtables, including those in the exhibition “Dvoeslovie/Dialogue” in St. Tatyana Church at the Moscow State University (2010), a special project of the State Tretyakov Gallery “Bread of Heaven” (2011), exhibition of the Russian Academy of Arts “Art and religion in the space of contemporary culture” (2013 ) etc.
Curators of the exhibition “The Gifts” continue this initiative.
Art critic Irina Yazikova believes it’s important to investigate the question of how impenetrable is the boundary between church and secular art. What is the nature of their connection? Many questions have no clear answer yet, but it is obvious that today we cannot say much about the revival of iconography, rather than about its return and establishing of a modern iconographic tradition within which we can quite clearly see different trends. First, in recent years stylistic search of painters acquired great variety and a much deeper degree of freedom and courage. Secondly, in the works of Russian painters one can see not only following different historical styles, but also the emergence of individual brushwork; such phenomenon as “author icon” is being born.
In the view of art critic Sergei Khachaturov the exhibited works can be classified into three categories. First, new icons which correspond to an iconographic program of venerated images of the Eastern Christian Church. Second, works on theme of Gospel topics and images created with the fundamental departure from the accepted tradition and canon. The third category includes works that respond to the most important images of world culture, inspired by Christianity.
New icons are created by Anatoly Eteneier, priest Andrey Davydov, Olga Shalamova, Marina Turnova, Alexander Kornoukhov, Irina Zaron… There are works of various materials and techniques. To communicate with them is interesting because while they have a profound respect for the traditional iconography they are also set apart by a featurethat might be called sociability. The sociability towards contemporary art, the traditions of modernism (from expressionism to neonaiv, even such style as “informel” (“tachisme”)). This feature contributes to the appearance of what is usually called trust, trust in the personal experience of comprehension of the Faith, in humility before its unfathomable Mystery.
The second group of products is highly sensitive to our world, nonclassical and radical in relation to overcoming boundaries of different types and genres of art. Works of Gor Chahal, Maxim Ksuta , Alexey Dyakov, Alexander Konstantinov , Tatiana Badanina, Vladimir Nasedkin, Valery Koshlyakov, Anatoliy Komelin, Irina Zatulovskaya, Andrey Kolosov are exactly what is called contemporary art. Under the law of existence of this artthe viewer is bound to be not only full by empathy (as required by the classical tradition), but also an accomplice in creating an image. When the mystery of the Transfiguration is recreated in the work of Anatoliy Komelin with a few brutal abstract bars, it brings the involving power of the resonant medium, causing you to conjecture: what’s the way the entire universe reacts to a particular event of sacred history through the smallest particles; which traces and secret signs of those stories are captured in seemingly the most unremarkable things and experiences. To raise such judgment requires responsibility, discipline of thought and humility. These qualities distinguish, for example, the works of Gor Chahal dedicated to apophatic theology. One of them is a movie, another is a picture,painted with acrylic on canvas. Both bring the birth process of Logos from Chaos, the Form, radiant in Eternity, comes out of Formless. This Form is infinitely more perfect thanany of our thoughts about it. All works of the second group are difficult to understand: their obvious simplicity hides need for personal work of the mind and feelings of each viewer.
The necessity of one’s own responsibility.The third category of works unites the proofs of generous presence of Christianity in the world culture, sanctifying and enlightening it. These works have been through many cultural texts-filters. Installations and paintings by Ilya Piganov, Yuri Avvakumov, Olga Tobreluts, Nadezhda Mukhina, group “Bursaki” (“Seminarians)—with a certain degree of conditionality they can defined as “neo-baroque”—so intricate and inviting their view is, so polyphonic and even emblematic appears their form of dialogue with the audience. The exposition is formed so that within each room works of different groups are adjacent to each other. In this careful neighborhood each individual work is perceived like a jewel, while disclosed as much as possible in the context of the others. All three groups are interdependent and mutually supportive .
They are combined without mixing.
Exhibition photo album