ODESSA SCHOOL. TRADITIONS AND ACTUALITY (MYSTETSKII ARSENAL, KIEV)
On June 12 – 30 Mystetskyi Arsenal will host a unique in its scale exhibition “The Odessa School” which will present Odessa Art of the 20th and 21st centuries in Kyiv. The exhibition will feature some 500 paintings, drawings, sculptures and videos created by artists from Odessa during the second half of the 20th and the first decade of the 21st century. These are works of about a hundred of Odessa artists, including such known and important for the history of Ukrainian art names like Mykhailo Bozhyi, Yuri Yegorov, Valentine Khrushch, Liudmila Yastreb, Oleksandr Roytburd, Igor Gusev and others.
The exhibition is organized by Mystetskyi Arsenal and DymchukArtPromotion.
A remarkable and distinctive artistic tradition appeared and evolved in Odessa since the Society of South Russian Artists led by Kiriak Kostandi was established in 1890. At the end of the 1910s Odessa became one of the centers of the European avant-garde due to the world famous Salons held by Volodymyr Izdebskyi.
In the Soviet times, the Odessa College enjoyed relative freedom from strict ideological control, under which art schools and academies in Moscow and Leningrad worked, and provided good classical education based on a strong Italian-French historical tradition. The works of Odessa school artists were always technically professional and involved a huge variety of artistic styles and technologies, sharing the special spirit of creative freedom. Each of the artists at the exhibition has his own “voice” which differs from the others. However, as the artist Yurii Yehorov stated, they are all united by the “Odessa air”.
The “Odessa School exhibition” will include personal and group art projects, as well as historical and documentary background common for them. The latter embraces archival photographs, documents, newspaper clippings and videos since the mid-20th century till the early 2010s.
The period in the history of Odessa art presented at the exhibition can be divided into several stages:
Lyrical realism of Mykhailo Bozhyi, Mykola Shelyuto, Albin Gavdzinskyi, Volodymyr Lytvynenko and others (1940s-1960s). At that time urban landscapes, still lifes and lyrical portraits became a form of escape of the artists from official canon and ideological narrative demands of socialist realism.
Non-Conformism of Victor Maryniuk, Valery Basanets, Oleg Voloshinov, Volodymyr Strelnikov, Oleksandr Anoufriev and others (1960s-1980s) was a period of apartment exhibitions when artists were excluded from official artistic life for their stylistic experiments and forced to search a creative outlet in intimate forms, topics and small “everyday” displays. The exhibition curators also attributed the works of Yurii Yehorov and his followers to this stage. The latter were mostly artists of Odessa origin who were educated in metropolitan universities and, after returning home, gradually abandoned the “severe style” (romantic socialist realism) in favor of Egorov-style seascapes.
“The New Wave” (1980s-1990s), which was “surged” by Sergy Anoufriev, Leonid Voitsekhov and other Odessa artists – a generation which aggressively opposed the canons of classical art.
1990s-2000s Contemporary Art in various trends and forms (Oleksandr Roytburd, Vasyl Riabchenko, Dmytro Oreshnikov, Oleksandr Shevchuk, Myroslav Kulchytskyi, Igor Gusev, Volodymyr Kozhukhar, Sergy Zarva, and others). This stage includes Odessa actionism of the late 2000s and early 2010′s (“Art Raiders”) and Odessa video art of the last 20 years. This period brought international recognition and commercial success to the artists.
In addition, the Odessa collection features some “singles” – artists whose artworks are difficult to attribute to any particular group or trend. Among them are Anatoly Shopin, Viktor Pavlov, and Kostiantyn Skoptsov.
“Non-conformism 2013” special project. Members of Mamai creative association will create large non-figurative paintings united under the name “Non-conformism 2013” especially for the “Odessa School Exhibition”. The project is unique since all the participants, namely Volodymyr Strelnikov, Volodymyr Maryniuk, Eugen Rakhmanin, Valery Basanets, Volodymyr Tsiupko, Oleg Voloshynov, Volodymyr Naumets, Igor Bozhko, and Sergy Savchenko, are genuine representatives of the 1960s and 1970s Odessa non-conformism. According to the curators’ intention, they will have to work in a manner which will correspond to the requirements of contemporary art. Unlike the small-scale paintings of the Soviet era, which were suitable for display at minor apartment exhibitions, the participants of “Non-Conformism 2013” special project will have to create large-format abstract pictures in a three-week term.
The “Fence Exhibition” special project. Especially for the “Odessa School Exhibition”, the famous “Fence Exhibition”, one of the first open actions of the Odessa underground, will be reconstructed. “The Fence Exhibition” was held in 1967 when Stanislav Sychev and Valentine Khrushch exhibited their works outdoors, on a wooden construction fence around the Opera Theatre, having given the exhibition the legendary “Sychyk + Khruschyk” name. “The Fence Exhibition” has only lasted three hours and was dispersed by the police. This happened in Odessa seven years before the infamous Bulldozer Exhibition in Moscow.
During the “Odessa School Exhibition” a series of meetings with artists, discussions and concerts of Odessa musicians will be organized, among which the concert of Izia Kolt band should be marked out. Its poetic texts continue the tradition of Sasha Chornyi, as well as of the ironic, intelligent and somewhat frivolous urban love songs and of the Odessa street songs.
“Odessa School” project in Kyiv is part of the nationwide project whose mission is to represent Odessa art in the most wide and thorough way and to span cultural bridges between different regions of Ukraine. The project was launched in April 2013 in Donetsk at the Art and Exhibition Center ArtDonbas, where the “The Odessa School. Tradition and Currency” exhibition was successfully held. After Mystetskyi Arsenal in Kyiv, the project will go to Lviv.