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Vitaly Komar: Artist's Talk: 'Pushkin’s Cat and other Animals in my Work'

As part offlamboyant and hugely influential art duet Komar & Melamid, Vitaly Komar was one of pioneers of Moscow conceptualism, the authors of ‘sots-art’ movement and some first performances and installations in Moscow in 1970’s.  He also co-organised the first open-air art exhibition in Moscow in1974 that became known as ‘Bulldozer show’ after it was smashed by KGB casual-dressed forces with the aid of bulldozers. The duet separated in 2003, but the artists Vitaly Komar and Alexander Melamid are still actively working. 

Vitaly Komar’s talk is expected to be, as usual, witty, playful and full of twists.  Please note that the talk will be in English.

‘I finished a large painting “A.S. Pushkin’s Cat” at the beginning of this year. I turned oak leafs into letters of alphabet andcrowned the cat with a golden laurel wreath.

During my career I have been concerned with the broad theme of animals in art. Thus, as a young artist, in 1972 I painted a pop-image of ‘Laika’ dog as it was depicted on a box of cigarets that were popular in Soviet Union at that time. We did it together with Alec Melamid in a framework of the ‘Sots-Art’ movement we started then.

Even earlier, when 15 years old, I participated in Zoo Museum competition of animal drawing and won a prize, that was a drawing of an elephant by a famous Soviet artist Vassily Vatagin, received from his own hands. Later on, as Vatagin’s student at Stroganov Art School in Moscow, I heard from him that an elephant can grab a little stone or a wood chip with its trunk and scribble on the ground. It is interesting, that ability of elephants to draw was mentioned by Pliny the Elder. 

Thus, in my talk I am going to tell about my collaboration and co-authorship with elephants and other animals. Also, a part of it will be about mythic hybrids of animals and humans, such as minotaur, centaurs and others. I believe that they are the earliest origins of the contemporary eclecticism in culture and politics’.