Art director of the Ekaterina Cultural Foundation and curator of the exhibition “Person. Form. Time ”Alexandra Kharitonova tells how the Russian fashion for portraits has changed.
“A ceremonial portrait appeared only in the 18th century. Then insignia, costumes, and allegories were important, talking about the social status of the hero. The tradition continued in official Soviet painting. The modernists had a different story: they perceived the person in the portrait as the basic form – a ball or a cube. In the portraits of Pyotr Konchalovsky of the 1910s, people seemed to be in the same ceremonial poses, but the main decision was to exaggerate the forms, create a bright, textured “picture”. In general, nonconformist artists who followed the traditions of the avant-garde in the genre of portrait preferred chamber self-portraits or portraits of people of their circle.
Anatoly Zverev turned the creation of a portrait into a performance: he worked quickly, grabbing the characteristic features of the model, while he furiously sprayed and rubbed the paint with his fingers. In the 70-80s, artists more often worked with photography, often self-portrait: the exhibition has two such paintings – Eric Bulatov and Oleg Vasiliev. Now there is no genre system as such. “Face” is rather a quote referring to an era, style, character. This is a game of meanings. Vladik Mamyshev-Monro in the Monroe-Warhol project is not just the image of Marilyn Monroe, it is also an icon of pop art. Olga Tobreluts Kate Moss becomes a Madonna from the paintings of the early Renaissance. If I had to choose whom to entrust the portrait with, it would be Eric Bulatov or Sergey Shekhovtsov – he has very beautiful foam sculptures. ”