Or as I now think of them the wonderful Kabakov. That rare thing in art of a husband (Ilya) and wife (Emilia) team. I am also impressed when museums put on big shows involving people I’ve never heard of. It is a core of their purpose I think and all the London museums do it well. Tate has done this to me a number of times.
So the Kabakovs. The story starts with Ilya who until the late eighties resided in the then Soviet Union. Not being an official artist he did most of his work in private and showed it only to his friends. Despite this encumbrance he produced some great and interesting things.
The show is sort of but not really chronological. Just wander round and enjoy it. The first room is strange paintings, a sort of football player and a strange face. For me it really takes off in the next room with sculpture models in them. In a corner a pile of clothes with small cut out white figures. Opposite this in another corner a cabinet with two cut out holes in the middle shelves. Wires pass through the shelves and ascending and descending on the wires again the little white figures.
In front of these two models for installations. One showing giant legs coming through the ceiling while the “normal” people wander round their feet. The other a very intriguing design for a multilevel opera to be staged in the New York Guggenheim. It never came to pass.
After that the big stuff appears. Set in a large aperture is the installation that is the poster piece for this show. Its call the man who shot himself into space from his apartment. I loved this thing. Really loved it. It shows a room, a small cramped room, covered in soviet posters and in the centre a sort of catapult spring thing and a large jagged hole in the ceiling. It is joyful, it is technically superb, it is well done, it has a message and meaning. Conceptual artists should take note. This is how you do it. I won’t describe all of the installations just some of them.
The title piece is a joint work (most of the stuff in the show is), called Not Everyone Will be Taken Into the Future (above). There is a large dark room. At one end a departing train with on the back the an electronic sign which scrolls the name of the title. On the track behind it spilling of the platform are several canvasses. Great image, smacks you in the eyes.
The Kabakov’s can paint to which they show off in the next room, a series of sort of mashed up images of soviet era scenes interspersed with other scenes. All of them have another message. In between these are some really intriguing wooden sculptures. Many of them mock ups of planned or past installations.
So hope you enjoyed the blog. Have a very merry Christmas, or perhaps you already have. If you are in London in January perhaps you could pop along to the Law Society Art Group annual show. Details below.
William John Mackenzie
I am an artist with a specialism in landscapes and still life. My contact details are here.