From the 28th of September to the 24th of October 2010 – Moscow Museum of Modern Art
This exhibition presents works by renowned Russian artist Alena Kirtsova. Her biography and artistic achievements enrich the history of Russian contemporary art with a unique reinterpretation and development of the Modernist tradition in painting that seemed to be lost forever under the Soviet totalitarian regime. Russian art critics labeled Alena Kirtsova’s art as ‘Russian Minimalism’. However, when we take into consideration its depth of topics, range of formal searches, and diversity of genres (painting, graphics, objects, photos, installations, land art, and so on), it definitely falls beyond the narrow scope of all stylistic definitions.
Kirtsova received this ‘minimalist’ label after her geometric works of the early 1980s, turning points in her career. It was then that her intuitive plastic research of her previous period gained clarity and integrity, thanks to the motif of the interior of a concrete residential block. Kirtsova saw the faceless ‘boxes’ with slashed windows and doors as heirs of the modernist aesthetics, and she achieved it with maximum effect and persuasion.
Then the artist developed a new concept of plastic and non-descriptive nature of the language of painting, which led to the further expansion of her method’s limits. Anything that Kirtsova did afterwards — was it creating ‘memorial tablets’, box objects or photographic collages, decorating walls of exhibition spaces or painting canvases — can be considered as experiments in painting. It was that modernist painting which conceived itself as the matrix, the cosmos and the practical manual of future world order.
Kirtsova’s art is paradoxical because it combines two seemingly contradictory qualities: speculation and inclination towards metaphysics, on the one hand, and the extraordinary, on the other. That is why warm and soft color schemes accompany the pure and piercing clarity of Kirtsova’s formal discoveries. In her geometric compositions, born during examinations of daily routine, the umbilical cord with life is never torn. They retain the protein structure of things. However, in every period of her creation, the artist proposes new interpretations of this painterly matter.
In the early 80s, Kirtsova explored the inner fabric and molecular structure of the object, and the boundaries that divide it from the outside. A decade later, her attention shifted to the surface of objects. Here, Kirtsova tried to demonstrate its discreteness, permeability, and layered structure. The works of recent years present the disruption of traditionally stereotypical objects. The author is neatly responsive to visual mutations and moves from the palpable image to the virtual. Thus, landscapes assembled of separate horizontal stripes are like compendiums of numerous monochrome canvases slashed into pieces. The corporal, material treatment of color is charged with new parameters, such as plurality, kaleidoscopic nature and hollowness, characteristic of digital images.
It is impossible to speak of Alena Kirtsova’s oeuvre in the past tense, as the project stays open. Her work is still under way. However, the summary of her creation allows generalizing and concluding that the art of Alena Kirtsova belongs to the most important and innovative phenomena of contemporary Russian visual culture.