Contemporary Russian Art Collectives
An art scene may be the materialization of the internal search for a national, a cultural, a personal identity; St. Petersburg, Russia is home to contemporaries endeavoring to uncover self and promote a new era of industrialized creative realization.
The contemporary era has borne witness to arduous times in Eastern Europe. The post-communist years brought many challenges, but artists have in turn brought forth a potent movement channeling the strength necessary for political survival in twenty-first century Russia.
Although most consider Russia conservative in social politics, the art of many contemporary artists addresses current issues of social injustice. Art is used as a tool for self-expression and emotional support in Russia just as it is in America. As you look through the works of Russian artist Mila Severtseva, think about the emotional connection she holds with her pieces, and the purpose these pieces have served her throughout the years.
I don’t know why I started to make art. It came from inside. I didn’t have a clear purpose; I just wanted to create something. Abstract painting is similar to abstract music for me. I used to make abstract music (ambient, field recordings, glitch). Then I stopped making music and started making paintings, it was a continuation of the former for me. I was inspired by music so much (EDM, ambient, hip-hop, jazz, funk, soul, minimalism, etc.); music understood me and I wanted to show that.
“Color is the keyboard, the eyes are the harmonies, the soul is the piano with many strings. The artist is the hand that plays, touching one key or another, to cause vibrations in the soul.”
I was inspired by graphic design and Bauhaus (Ittend and Kandinsky). I love abstract and peculiar art. I like to check other artists’ art on Instagram these days. I have found so much inspiration and knowledge through it.
My life has been one of hardships and making art saves me from sadness, depression and darkness, but sometimes I get sadness, depression and darkness by making art. It’s hard to explain. I don’t have a typical artistic education, I am a sociologist by trade, but I left sociology. Sociology opened a spiritual and moral world for me; it’s a very important part of me. I’m knowledgeable on society because I think that it is very important for an artist to be educated in such, but I need more practice as an artist. I just keep creating what I feel.
“The deeper the blue becomes, the more strongly is calls man towards the infinite, awakening in him a desire for the pure and, finally, for the supernatural…the brighter it becomes, the more it loses its sound, until it turns into silent stillness and becomes white.”
I wake up every day full of different feelings and fall asleep every day full of different feelings; I continue these feelings in my dreams.
I feel that life is so fast. Every moment disappears so quickly; I can’t manage it. By making collages I wanted to save the little moments of my life. I wanted to show my feelings after communicating with the real world through these collages. Making them, I was beyond reality, out of reality, out of communication with the real world. I remembered my feelings of the moment after hours of being alone, I remembered the real world not exactly as it was, but different than hours prior; remembrance of the real world would disappear from my memory. My paintings were made when I was “unconscious”. I lost the presence of reality when I created them. It was the moment when I couldn’t feel the line between reality and dreams. When I came back to reality I felt the real world again, but I couldn’t create in that moment, I could only remember how I created before. Making my collages I wanted to connect reality with my unconscious.
When I took someone’s photo I felt this moment within his life; this photo was an experience for me but not a moment, as I can never live in the moment he lived yet I can see the moment and imagine what I want of it. Spending moments of my life with these photos, which are moments of someone else’s life, I create abstract compositions for them. I want to show how I felt that this photo and that this moment were very important to me. For every photo, I would create an abstract composition.
Lately I have had the idea of recycling. I have recycled my old paintings for making new collages and paintings, and I include parts of old paintings inside new collages.
“Everything starts from a dot.”
My paintings are my feelings, I don’t have a concrete concept, I just adore painting and creating, I cant live without it. I really don’t know where my paintings could be. I have destroyed so many of them, because I couldn’t find a place for them in this world. I just hope that I will always have opportunity for creating art.
“Colors produce a corresponding spiritual vibration, and it is only as a step towards this spiritual vibration that the elementary physical impression is of importance.”
A fascinating part of the contemporary art movement in St. Petersburg, Russia, for example, is the prevalence of creative spaces located in old factories or seemingly arbitrary buildings standing between two business centers for instance. The city has undergone quite the cultural renaissance in the last decade, enabling St. Pete’s to distinguish as a contemporary art competitor amongst giants such as London, New York and more notably Moscow. Moscow has long prided on its high art offerings but the city of many names is rising to the occasion with noncommercial, nonconforming galleries and exhibition spaces.
Тайга (Taiga) and Лофт Проект (The Loft Project) are two gallery spaces that fall into the aforementioned category along with the more elusive Пушкинская 10 (Pushkinskaya 10) which is not likely to be found by the casual passerby. The majority of these contemporary spaces are located through unmarked alleyways and nameless metal doors inhabiting an alluring sense of mystery behind them.
A split country contemplating the beliefs of a Slavophile or a Westerner, the split cities of Moscow and St. Petersburg and currently the split culture of streamlined minimalist museum spaces versus the quirky yet dark underside of the post-Soviet art scene – it seems there is a true identity yet to be found but the sculpture of said identity is forever in the making.