Pushkin House presents an exhibition by Victoria Lomasko, Russian artist and activist, who chronicles the daily lives of ordinary people. For Pushkin House she will be painting a set of murals directly on to the walls of the house, related to her graphic reportage work - the main media of her art. To make her work, Lomasko travels throughout the former Soviet Union and spends time with those who are rarely represented in the media - talking to them and drawing them. Marginal and yet important grassroots groups that appear in Lomasko’s work include: striking truck drivers camping on snowy roads, humble housewives campaigning against the building of a new church over a playground, Muscovites protesting mass demolitions, large demonstrations against the official politics of power, the invisible and voiceless slaves of the metropolitan bourgeoisie, a small LGBT community in a sleepy post-Soviet city - all the people whose humble existence is overlooked by the mainstream. For many years Lomasko has been organising art workshops for juveniles in detention centres, women in Caucasian mountain villages, everywhere using art as means of liberation and self expression.
‘There’s a wonderful immediacy to her portraits, which give colour and humanity to what is at times a grim read. When she shows energised gatherings of people, guitars, placards and balloons, streaks of light illuminate the darkness.’
'Though her figures are rendered in broad, black-and-white strokes, Lomasko’s depictions of God-fearing old ladies, young skinheads, and striking truckers never fall into the traps of parody, contempt, or stereotype.'
The New Yorker
The narrative of the show, ’On the Eve’ has developed around the metaphor of a snowy landscape, that muffles and hinders ideas and movements. The exhibition follows the recent publication of Lomasko’s book ‘Other Russias’ by n+1 in the US and Penguin in the UK - the book has been shortlisted for this year's Pushkin House Russian Book Prize. The murals in the main room of Pushkin House refer to reportages that feature in the book, bringing them up to date. A collection of original drawings will also be exhibited as well as a slide-film projection.
The exhibition title is taken from the novel by 19th century Russian writer, Ivan Turgenev, which was perceived by Russian intelligentsia as prophetic of the enormous political and social upheavals to come. Written in 1860, the novel focused on the burgeoning educated middle-class in Russia and their striving for a ‘new life’ against the backdrop of the constraints of an absolutist political system. Lomasko’s work does not refer to that historical situation directly, but by documenting protests and dissenting voices this show is an attempt to explore social and political life in Russia today in all its complexity, and open debates on the future of its political movements.
Victoria Lomasko is an artist and activist. She graduated from Moscow State University of Printing Arts in 2003 with a degree in graphic art and book design. An artist and activist, she works as a graphic artist with a focus on graphic reportage. Her work has appeared in print publications in Russia and abroad, she exhibits extensively in Russia, Europe and US. Her book ‘Other Russias’ was published in the US by n+1 and the UK by Penguin and has been shortlisted for the 2018 Pushkin House Russian Book Prize. Lomasko has collaborated extensively with various non-profit human rights organisations. She is the co-curator of two long-term art and activism projects: ‘Drawing the Court’ (with Zlata Ponirovska) and ‘The Feminist Pencil’ (with Nadia Plungian).
Elena Zaytseva is a curator, writer and historian of art. She curated exhibitions at the Tretyakov Gallery, Moscow and Pushkin House, London; special projects of the Moscow Biennale of Contemporary art and exhibitions in independent art spaces in Moscow and London. She holds a PhD from the Research Institute of Theory and History of Fine Arts, Moscow, and an MFA Curating from Goldsmiths. She is a co-editor of ‘Cosmic Shift: Russian Contemporary Art Writing’, published by ZED Books, London, in 2017.
SEASON OF RELATED EVENTS:
A talk from feminist art critic and academic Professor Katy Deepwell about the work of artist, writer and committed communist Pearl Binder, and her depictions of everyday life in the Soviet Union in the 1920s and '30s. This event is part of our current exhibition - On The Eve, by Victoria Lomasko.
The latest political, social and economic changes in Russia have had a significant influence on the art scene in Russia and have provoked an immediate response from many artists. New art and activist practices have emerged, many of them are initiated by female artists whose strong statements and opinions are impossible to ignore. A talk by curator and researcher Maria Veits.
Pushkin House is delighted to host a lecture by Prof. Sarah Wilson on the life and work of Russian artist and activist Petr Pavlensky. This even is part of our current exhibition. On the Eve by Victoria Lomasko.
This documentary has been lived and performed by its protagonist Abdulmamad Bekmamadov, Abdul, who came to Russia from Tajikistan in search of a job.
Evgeny Granilshchikov’s debut feature film pursues the exploration of the social and political landscape of contemporary Russia started in his short video works and drawings about a decade ago. Lives and careers of his characters develop against a backdrop of current political affairs. Filmed over two years in Saint Petersburg and Paris, The Last Song starts with a conservative turn in Russian society after the presidential elections of 2012 and ends in the present day. This event is part of our current exhibition - On The Eve, by Victoria Lomasko.
When in November 2015 in Russia the toll system for heavy trucks on Federal highways was imposed, it changed the life of its long-distance drivers. Nobody would expect that what started as a peaceful protest by the truck drivers would transform into a huge strike that lasted two months or more and became one of the leading protests of the time. The film was shown at the "Artdocfest", the largest documentary film festival in Russia. It won an award for Best Debut Film at the "Saratov Sufferings" International Documentary Festival.
Q&A with artist Victoria Lomasko and curator of exhibition Elena Zaytseva. Victoria will talk about her work in Russia, and the various themes that she touches on in her exhibition at Pushkin House, opening 8th March.