Художники из Ст. Петербурга / Аrtists from St. Petersburg. Works on Paper

Exhibtion and catalogue The blown kiss • Воздушный поцелуй • Berlin, 1994

The exhibition

Artists Die Künstler Художники
Exhibtion Die Ausstellung Концепция выставки
Catalogue Katalog каталог

The exhibition.

The idea to have an exhibition of Petersburg artists exclusively with works on paper, occured to me in the summer of 1992 while visiting Oleg Kotelnikov in his studio.

I expected to find large format, expressive oil paintings, but what Oleg Kotelnikov placed before me were instead, tiny, delicate, poetic watercolors.

Oleg Kotelnikov, untitled water-color, india ink, paper 37 x 24 cm, 1992

Oleg Kotelnikov, untitled
water-color, india ink, paper
37 x 24 cm, 1992

I was enchanted. Could it be that other artists of Oleg's generation possessed similar treasures?

The larger paintings, usually oil on canvas or on cloth, were familiar to me from earlier visits. This is the work with which the artists more readily identify and allow themselves to be identified; work seen in exhibitions and in catalogs. But what about their graphic work?

it was soon revealed that virtually all artists I approached had an unordered stock of drawings, collages and sketches, often unsigned, which were seldom or never shown.

That these works were consistantly overshadowed by the "more serious" paintings had little to do with their quality. Rather, this was the result of the particular situation of the unofficial artist of the eighties outlined in the introduction.

Given that the exhibtion oppurtunities were rare, it was logical that artists would select their oil paintings as representative work. These were often produced in spontaneous collective actions specifically intended for an exhibition. Thus, art became more than merely an individual creative process; rather, it involved the interrelationships between the artists.

Yet, their graphic work is of a more intimate nature. Certainly, here the artistic principles of each artist are present. However, their creativity unfolds free of all expectations and possible obligation to a particular style or technique, to which they are otherwise associated.

Particularly the small works demonstrate the pleasure and immediacy with which the Petersburg artists develop and realize their various artistic ideas. Their creative impulse springs from a strong sensitivity for the beauty of things, a beauty revealing itself to the unbiased viewer as the poetic side of the trivial - the true reality of existence - and is communicated by many artists with a pronounce sense of humour.

Vadim Ovchinnikov: At the Edge of the Village, felt pen on blotting paper, 15 x 21,5 cm, 1992

Vadim Ovchinnikov
At the Edge of the Village
felt pen on blotting paper
15 x 21,5 cm, 1992

Not every artist was aware of the independent strength of their graphic work. The idea for this exhibition brought this work into the foreground, sparking a creative surge in the cases of Valery Morozov, Inal Savchenkov, Andrei Medvedev and Vyacheslav Mogilevsky.

Other artists have always used the small format, most prominently Evgenij Kozlov, Vadim Ovchinnikov, Oleg Zaika and Viktor Kuznetsov. Kozlov was interested in practicing otherwise neglected print techniques, particularly etching. Artist albums and thematic series are especially important for these artists. Furthermore, it becomes evident here that many of the oil paintings were first elaborated in sketch studies. -

With this exhibtion we hope to expose a larger public to the lesser-known work of an important generation of Petersburg artists. Their works on paper document the broad spectrum of their various artistic approaches.

And whenever possible, we have quoted the artists' own explanations of their artistic ideas.

Our approach was not an art historical study of a specific genre, but rather to sketch an outline of the creative mood representing the complex inner worlds of the artists. We believe that the work presented here communicates the autenticity, the richness and the poetry of Russian art.

Hannelore Fobo, 1994.