This Spring we are excited to announce the third exhibition and auction, co-curated by Maxim Boxer and Leonid Tishkov in London during the Russian Art Week. It will examine the tradition of “cartoon-like art” in Russia, tracing the evolution of its visual language and distinctive humour from the lubok imagery of the 18th century towards the contemporary pictorial art, comics, and animation.
With some 50 artworks on display, the exhibition will bring together the variety of ap-proaches to the cartoon-like aesthetics, presenting a range of techniques, developed by the contemporary Russian artists.
The grotesque pictures of lubok that are often supplied with sincere witty captions can be claimed to be the first examples of proto-comics and cartoons in Russian art. The imita-tions of lubok further appeared in the works of early 20th-century avant-garde artists, like Natalia Goncharova and Mikhail Larionov, Kazimir Malevich and David Burlyuk.
The conceptualist artists like Victor Pivovarov, Gosha Ostretsov, Georgy Letichevsky, Leonid Tishkov and Andrei Bilzho choose to draw the inspiration for their pictorial imagery from the children’s books illustrations, gradually extending its borders towards the realm of high art and releasing it from the initial narratives.
Russian conceptualists of the second wave - such as Pavel Pepperstein, Sergei Anu-friev, Arkady Nasonov, Nikita Alekseev, Alexander Savko and Evgeny Semenov - visu-alise the “children’s discourse” in the endless strips of comics-like pictures, compiled as the “stream of consciousness” collages. The series of colour silkscreen prints called “Ta-ro Cards”, produced by Elena Elagina, Igor Makarevich, and Maria Konstantinova at the “Moscow Studio” of hand-made printing at the end of 1990s, appear exactly as comics strips, when the cards are left uncut.
Recognisably different from their conceptualist colleagues, Damir Muratov, Vasily Slonov and the “Blue Noses” group (Alexander Shaburov and Vyacheslav Mizin) deliber-ately eliminate the “highbrow” traits in their cartoon-like artworks: balancing on the verge of the lofty and the lowly, they celebrate the inimitable humour of the folk.
By a means of pictorial aesthetics merged with story-telling, Yuri Albert, Konstantin Zvezdochetov, Alexander Dzhikiya and the “Mitki” art collective take the capacity of car-toon-like art genre to the extreme: their works are set to compose the entire original epic with its iconography, mythology, and characters - be they the imaginary protagonists, or the artists’ alter-egos themselves.
The exposition will be also complimented with the graphic works by the iconic Russian cartoon-makes - with Andrey Khrzhanovski, Yuri Norshtein (“The Hedgehog in The Fog”, 1975) and Svetozar Kuzmich (“Nu, Pogodi!” series) among others.
A program of public events will take place alongside the exhibition, with curators’ tours of the exhibition for collectors and art lovers, in Russian and English. On the 30th of May (Saturday) at 3 pm we invite you to join the talk by the celebrated Russian artist and photographer Leonid Tishkov. In “Anti-humour: Soviet Underground Caricature in 1970-80s” Tishkov will present the secret history and characters of the caricature genre that sits on the boarder between absurd and philosophy and profoundly effects the contempo-rary Russian art.
On the 2nd of June, the last day of the exhibition, all the art works on display will be of-fered for sale at an auction. The public auction is intended to attract European and Rus-sian buyers and European galleries and museums. With lots priced between £500-£10,000, affordability is key to the concept.