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PINCHUK’s ART-OLEUM

Umělec magazine 2007/1

01.01.2007

Alice Nikitinová | news | en cs de

The invitation for the celebration opening could be won on a radio program – if you had the right answer to the questions like, “What’s the name of the painting technique in which you put oil on canvas? – Oil painting! Oh, great, congratulations to our listener. You have just won a ticket to the opening of the Pinchuk Art Center!!!”…


In Kiev a Center of Contemporary Art was opened – Pinchuk Art Centrum. Considering there are only three galleries in Kiev that exhibit contemporary art, and art history at the Kiev Academy ends with Impressionism this is a noteworthy event. The founder of the center is the well-known Ukrainian oligarch and a son-in-law of the former president Kutchma, Viktor Pinchuk,(1) who has been collecting contemporary art for a few years, the curators of his collections are Nicolas Bourriaud(2) and Alexander Solovyov.(3) In the collection there are Ukrainian post-modern classics of the 90s (Alexander Gnilitsky, Institution of Unstable Thoughts, Volodymyr Kozhuhar, Arsen Savadov, Oleg Tistol, Vasyl Tsagolov, Illya Chichkan.), Russian artists of Ukrainian origin (Oleg Kulik, Boris Mykhailov, Serhiy Bratkov), as well as world-famous foreign artists (Xavier Veilhan, Subodh Gupta, Olafur Eliasson, Sarah Morris, Carsten Nicolai, Philippe Parreno, Navin Rawanchaikul, Thomas Ruff, Charles Sandison, Jun Nguen-Hatsushiba, Carsten Holler). The ceremony itself was closed to those without an invitation – but you couldn’t get in if your invitation was soiled or damaged. No wonder – the society at this action was very different from the usual opening public – no reckless bohemians but solid morose men in dark suits, accompanied by two-meter jeweled beauties. On the platform there was a huge instrumental group playing, on the many screens a montage of various contemporary art danced and on poles in cages danced gogo-dancers dressed as well-known artists. The names of the artists were written on the cages – just to be sure – in Cyrilic as well as the Roman alphabet: Andy Warhol, Salvador Dalí, Gauguin, Van Gogh, Picasso, and even Leonardo da Vinci. An openly expressed role of an artist in the present situation. In the public golden and winged muses were walking. From time to time the presenter glorified contemporary art in the style of a Prague. The local presenters of the event claim that Europe and the civilized world have finally entered Ukraine. But the role of the center is not clear. On one hand contemporary art has been given legitimacy and attention, on the other hand it is obvious that it has become an instrument of politics. Because contemporary art in Ukraine is still in a marginal position, there are no contrary opinions inside it; there are only its followers or opponents. In the present day situation the opponents join all the nationally and conservatively attuned groups but the followers are automatically put in the opposite camp. (By the way the present day president Yushchenko likes to show his personal taste which is pretty retrograde without respect to his pro-European orientation in politics, supports his favorite artists and prepares the opening of his own museum, a kind of a political competitor of Pinchuk’s center.) Another problem is that such an unexpected popularization of contemporary art absolutely distorts its original function, especially when its historical continuity is disturbed.(4) For a long time there have been only a few small, marginal galleries, visited by the same circle of people. Suddenly contemporary art is shown to a wide public in the form of an unexpected, grandiose show, exotic fun for the nouveau riche, a kind of a fashionable, trendy thing, without content – and the center stands in the commercial zone among luxurious boutiques. The choice of the works supports this image – mostly these are huge, visually “tasty” things, which can astound the inexperienced viewer. In the media the most discussed is a fire during the opening, or the prices of the exhibited works: “They say some exhibits cost thousands of dollars.” In this interpretation the art is deprived of any personal position and the collection becomes a mere cabinet of curiosities.


(1) Viktor Pinchuk is one of the richest people in Ukraine, owner of many enterprises in the metallurgy, coal and media industries and suppliers of gas, a former member of the parliament and advisor of the president Kutchma. After the Orange Revolution and the change of the government the court took part of his enterprises. Now he presents himself as a patron of culture, health care and law.
(2) Nicolas Bourriaud, known in the Czech Republic as the author of “Postproduction,” also one of the curators of the Moscow Biennale.
(3) Olexander Solovyov – Ukrainian theoretician and curator.
(4) Although many Russian avant-garde artists at the beginning of the century came from Ukraine, the local environment was never inclined towards any new orientations. The existing avant-garde groups were a marginal appearance and disappeared soon, most of the intelligence was turned to the traditional and national values, so that the opposition of the state-endorsed socialist realism was even more conservative than other forms of socialist realism. Western art was inaccessible for most people. Underground artists (with a few exceptions) painted very intimate lyrical painting which they exhibited at home. After the break-up of the Union the society started to look for their own identity - in their famous historical past and in “spiritualism.” At the academy of visual arts Socialist Realism degraded itself to a degraded salon art and the standard of quality was the “spiritual horizon.” At the beginning of the 90s came postmodern – in the form of the Ukrainian neo-baroque and the artists around the group of the “Parisian commune,” who already had connections to the Western and Moscow scenes, and who were supported by Bonito Oliva, for example. After this generation there were no more people – maybe it has to do with the fact that the interest in Ukraine dropped and contemporary art didn’t interest anyone – except for the Soros center, where the same people circulated – the artists of the 90s. Only now there is a new generation of young artists appearing. There are few of them, but there is a big interest. More and more positive information can be found at: www.c-artpinchuk.org/peiges/english/2.html




01.01.2007

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