The Russian Avant-garde, Siberia and the East, is the first international exhibition to examine the fundamental importance of the Oriental and Eurasian connection to Russian Modernism. The exhibition follows the destinies of Russia’s self-proclaimed “Barbarians” in their search for new sources of artistic inspiration and demonstrates how modern Russian culture experienced a deep attraction to – and an apprehension of – the exotic, the unknown and the “Other”, which artists and writers identified with the spirit of the taiga, the virgin territories of desert and steppe and the “otherness” of Oriental culture.
The exhibition underscores, displaying 130 works (79 paintings, watercolours and drawings, 15 sculptures and 36 Oriental artefacts and ethnographical objects) divided into 11 sections, the complex relationship Russian artists experienced with the Orient, Wassily Kandinsky, Kazimir Malevich, Natal’ia Goncharova, Mikhail Larionov, Léon Bakst, Alexandre Benois, Pavel Filonov. These prime movers of the Avant-garde were deeply aware of the importance of the East and contributed to the rich debate which left a profound and permanent imprint on their creative imagination.
In addition to the heroes of the Russian Avant-garde, this exhibition will also acquaint the visitor with other, less familiar but strikingly original, artists of the day such as Nikolai Kalmakov, Sergei Konenkov and Vasilii Vatagin, many of whose works are being shown in the West for the first time.