Viktor Pivovarov

11 Mar - 07 May 2010

© Viktor Pivovarov
b-Painting: To Milena, 2005
Oil on canvas
65 x 90 cm / 25,6 x 35,4 in

Reception for the Artist on March 11, 2010
Exhibition from March 11, 2010 to May 7, 2010

Kewenig Galerie is pleased to present its first solo exhibition with paintings, drawings and collages by Viktor Pivovarov (born 1937 in Moscow, lives and works since 1982 in Prague). Pivovarov is one of the leading figures of the group of "Moscow Conceptualists" who began working in the 1960s and '70s. Like his artist colleagues Ilya Kabakov and Erik Bulatov, Pivovarov was also active in his early years as an illustrator of children's books, predominantly as a means of earning a living and distancing himself from the official Soviet art apparatus. He was thus free to create a fantastical world of images, within which he enjoyed the greatest possible freedom of artistic expression.

The paintings in the "Dedications" series from 2005/2006, which are featured in the current exhibition, are dedicated to family members and close friends, including his wife Milena, his daughter Masha, the Russian historian and author Kiril Kobrin and the late poet Henrich Sapgir. The portraits are composed of absurd, surrealist elements. Characteristic for the entire oeuvre of the artist is a constant visual irritation. Pivovarov works consciously with the overlapping of various pictorial levels and the introduction of unexpected perspectives. In one moment he allows the viewer to give in to a certain illusion of reality, only to disrupt this illusion by means of visual fractures, which are difficult, if not impossible, to reconcile with real experiences, both spatial and visual.

The drawings and collages on view pay witness to Pivovarov's penchant for narration and make lasting impressions on the viewer as a result of the artist's love of detail, his contextual and compositional complexity and his sheer richness of ideas. His preoccupation with everyday life and his attention to detail in the representation of objects of daily use link Pivovarov's experiences as an illustrator with the causality, with which he is able to escape from the academic Soviet pictorial canon into the (at times absurd) world of everyday life.

The artist's penchant for narration and allegory has remained central to his paintings, drawings, collages and albums to this day and lead the viewer into a surrealist cosmos, within which conventional ways of seeing, mass media visual culture and the icons of western and post-Soviet educational canons are called into question by means of irony and distortion. The Russian tradition of icon painting, allusions to the art of Kasimir Malevich and western role models such as Giorgio de Chirico and René Magritte play a central role in Pivovarov's art, as well as Russian myths, songs and legends.

Parallel to the exhibition in the Kewenig Galerie in Cologne is a comprehensive exhibition of Viktor Pivovarov's works under the title "Them" in the Moravian Gallery in Brno/Czech Republic (February 26 - May 23, 2010).

Tags: Erik Bulatov, Giorgio de Chirico, Ilya & Emilia Kabakov, René Magritte, Kazimir Malevich, Viktor Pivovarov