(E-E) Ev.g.e.n.i.j ..K.o.z.l.o.v Berlin

(E-E) Evgenij Kozlov: Exhibitions >> Leningrad 80s >>

The New Artists • Новые художники

Leningrad, Sverdlov House of Culture, 22-25 April 1988


Although the process of identifying the works and their authors has not been brought to an end, we can already draw the following conclusions:

1. The Sverdlov exhibition was not only the first official exhibition of the New Artists, but also by far the largest. The massive presence of artists and their works reflected the purpose of the presentation – to establish the New Artists as a strong and unique movement. In his flyer, Novikov uses the term “энергичность” – energy, vitality. Novikov’s statement that everybody brought along what they saw fit (Выставка эта так организовалась: кто что хотел, тот то и принес, никто ничего ни у кого не выбирал) may be taken literally: the available space was the only limit. Artists applied the principle of the so-called “St- Petersburg hanging” – the floor-to-ceiling “salon hanging”.

2. Likewise, there was no restriction to bringing along only recent works or works that had not been shown before. At least some of the works were relatively “old”. Examples are two works by Oleg Kotelnikov, both from 1983 (No. 38 and No. 39, mentioned above), a portrait by Vladislav Gutsevich (No. 69) and another one by Timur Novikov (No. 67). Both portraits had been exhibited as early as 1984, at the Fifth General exhibition of the TEII “Facets of Portraiture”.

3. The presentation of Kozlov’s constructivist White on Red paintings more >> was the only example of a conceptual, site-specific approach towards the installation of works. According to Kozlov, this was Novikov’s choice, as Kozlov had decided from an early stage – with the New Artists‘ first public exhibitions – not to interfere with the hanging. Although not originally created for this New Artists exhibition, these three large works turned it into a bold affirmation of the new times. Yet Kozlov’s fourth work at the exhibition, a multi-figure painting, introduced a completely different style see page 8 >>. Better than any other works presented at the exhibition, these four works emphasise Novikov’s statement, in his flyer, about the New Artists:

    И рисуют они не только так. Раньше они рисовали иначе и завтра может быть изменятся.
    They paint not only in this way. They used to paint differently and may change tomorrow.

4. Visual art created the context for a performance with music and film. With regard to music, it was the New Composers‘ electronic sound with its highly innovative collage technique. With regard to film, the focus was on black and white 16 mm experimental Necrorealist movies (Evgeny Yufit and Kostya Mitenev/Evgeny Kondratev). The New Critics provided this concept with a theoretical framework.

On the other hand, the Necorealists and New Composer Igor Verichev were also painters. This shows that the New Artists – if we are to include the Ncrorealists and the New Composers – evolved their activities in a number of fields, although visual art remained the focus of the group’s activity. (See my detailed discussion of the development of the New Artists lineup in: Timur Novikov‘s New Artists Lists, 2018 >>)

5. The concept of interrelating genres was maintained during the first large international tour of New Artists works, which started some months later at the Kulturhuset, Stockholm (August / September 1988) more >>, went on to the Kunsternes Hus, Aarhus (October / November1988), and ended at the Bluecoat Gallery and the Tate Gallery, Liverpool (January/ February 1989) see page 8 >>. Furthermore, the Sverdlov exhibition was important, perhaps crucial, to determine a number of the exhibits for this tour. Examples are works by Oleg Maslov and Alexei Kozin, Ivan Sotnikov, Sergei Bugaev and all four of Kozlov’s paintings.

6. Last but not least, several works displayed at the Sverdlov House of Culture went to the Twelfth General TEII “Spring” exhibition, which took place at the Leningrad Palace of Youth shortly after, from 7 May to 5 June 1988. A full documentation of the New Artists “section” at this TEII exhibition is a desideratum, but available pictures from the archives of both the Saint Petersburg Museum of Nonconformist Art and the City of Stockholm[1] see page 8 >> document works by Viktor Tsoi, Oleg Maslov and Alexei Kozin, Igor Verichev, and (E-E) Evgenij Kozlov.

[1] The City of Stockholm keeps the archive of the city’s municipal gallery “Kulturhuset”. In collaboration with the Swedish consulate in Leningrad, staff from the Kulturhuset administration started preparing the New Artists exhibition and festival already in 1987. For this purpose, artists’ works were documented in private and public locations, including at the Leningrad Palace of Youth, during Twelfth General TEII “Spring” exhibition.

CCCP by (E-E) Evgenij Kozlov.  Sverdlov House of Culture, Leningrad, Exhibition "The New Artists", 24 April 1988 Photo: Alexander Savatyugin
CCCP by (E-E) Evgenij Kozlov.
Sverdlov House of Culture, Leningrad, Exhibition "The New Artists", 24 April 1988
Photo: Alexander Savatyugin