The exhibition project "Engineers of Arts" is dedicated to the same-name school that was founded in the late 80s as an original artistic practice and became a part of Leningrad underground epoch of 1980s–1990s.
The school founders — a former member of the legendary “New Artists” group Inal Savchenko and a German sculptor, graduated from the State Academy of Art & Design (named after A.Stieglitz), Franz Rodwalt — were aiming to solve such complicated aesthetic problems as converting any art-nonrelated information into a piece of art. “Engineers of Arts” didn’t manifest any new ideology, but offered a new methodology of creativity.
Any subject from physics, microbiology to plumbing can be used as a conceptual art theme. Each scientific phenomenon or functioning principle of any structural activity can enrich artistic process and form its method. Aesthetical analysis of empirically received knowledge can help the author to interpret it in different media. It doesn’t have to be a visualized image since the artwork appears already at the moment of perceiving the information.
As the true successors of the Post-Modernist tradition, the artists follow the path of rejecting any formal art frameworks, but on the other hand, in their works they follow firmly stated objectives, representing the transformation of the artist’s image from a craftsman of pre-modernist time into a new “engineer of arts”.
By aligning Leningrad Neo-Expressionist stylistics with the new techniques, and thus synthesizing different forms of art, these authors have created a new artistic language and their own symbolics of visual images, which they obtained in the process of reflexion on different materials and matters.
“Engineers of Arts” embodied their experience in painting, sculpture and media projects. They collaborated with the “Kino” rock band, created animations and videos for “New Composers” and Sergey Kuryokhin.
The project features works by the “Engineers” from the 90s as Inal Savchenkov, Franz Rodwalt, Gregory Strelnikov and Sergey Enkov, and the contemporary works by the new school members as Agatha Savchenkova, Alexey Kuksov and others.
Unlike the “New Artists”, the “Engineers of Arts” were not largely exhibited as the original phenomenon of Russian culture. The present project will demonstrate the continuity of St. Petersburg Contemporary Art to the Leningrad non-conformism. By creating a cultural bridge between the earlier searches and the new projects, the “Engineers” will demonstrate the relevance and apprehensibility of their method.
Referring to the school’s art the project raises the question of the author’s place in the contemporary cultural paradigm and the essence of creating process. Basing on the school experience the project generates analysis of the situation by returning the author into the sphere of his practical interaction with the society, when he becomes a link between the people’s perception and their aesthetic comprehension of the world.
Text by Elizaveta Shagina, exhibition curator