Gaiety is the Most Outstanding Feature of the Soviet Union


Billing itself as an exhibition of contemporary Russian art, it would more accurately be described as contemporary art from the former Soviet Union, as several of the artists are not strictly Russian. This includes Boris Mikhailov), whose photographs of Kharkiv's homeless displaying their terrifyingly naked, tumored and diseased bodies are sure to reaffirm for the political left the foolishness in cutting social services, while giving those on the right an erection.

Decay, both social and structural, is one of the themes that runs through the exhibition. In Not Sad, Just Sighing, Dasha Shishkin depicts a pastel coloured high-society orgy while suggesting that it is a rather tedious affair. Valery Koshlyakov presents a series of technically sophisticated paintings done on concatenated pieces of corrugated cardboard, the surface of which is unable to hold the paint causing it to dribble and run. The criticism of the flimsy structures under the surface of grand architectural projects is extended westwards, as the series also includes the Notre Dame Cathedral and the Grand Opera in Paris.

Generally speaking, the works that make up this exhibition are not very subtle. Perhaps this is because artwork in the former Soviet Union is competing for attention with so many other products, cultural and otherwise.

Gaiety is the Most Outstanding Feature of the Soviet Union is at the Saatchi Gallery until the 9th of June, 2013

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