REBELS AT THE EDGE: Contemporary Art in Vladivostok, 1960s – 2010s

On November 14, Zarya Center for Contemporary Art will open “Rebels at the Edge: Contemporary Art in Vladivostok, 1960s – 2010s,” a group exhibition produced in collaboration with Arka Gallery and the Primorsky State Picture Gallery. The exhibition features works from artists in the Primorsky capital, including both emerging artists as well as those who paved the way for the development of conceptual and unofficial art in Vladivostok.

“For Zarya CCA, this exhibition is an opportunity, on the one hand, to act consistently within the framework of our strategy, showing the best of Russian art, while on the other, to bring exposure to the highest level of art in Vladivostok, presented through the lens of a new curatorial interpretation. We hope that this project helps draw attention both from within the region and beyond,” explained one of the curators of the exhibition, Chief Curator of ZARYA Center for Contemporary Art Alisa Bagdonayte.

The exhibition’s co-curator is Vera Glazkova, founder of the first international gallery of contemporary art in Vladivostok, Arka Gallery, which has served as a pillar of the city’s art scene for many years.

“In spite of seeming ‘closed off,’ our port city has always been a site for the synthesis of cultures and ideas. This is why the art of Vladivostok by definition holds a special place on the creative map of the country. But local artists have still yet to receive any substantial recognition or analysis of their work. Simply by being in demand in their own country, they can be in demand from the rest of the world, without emigrating, and remaining in close contact with their native and national culture. The idea for this exhibition was long since formed in the mind of its participants. I hope that it serves as a reminder of our heritage, while reflecting the processes going on today in the contemporary art of the Primorsky Krai and Vladivostok,” said Vera Glazkova.

The Vladivostok art scene began to take its form with the founding of the Primorsky State Picture Gallery and art school in the 1940s and the Academy of Art in the 1960s, as well as the emergence of non-academic institutions like ArtEtazh, Arka and Portmay. In 2013, Aleksandr Lobychev published a book on art in the Primorsky Krai, while in 2015, Natalya Levdanskaya defended the first thesis on the Neo-Modernist and Post-Modernist tendencies in the fine arts of the Primorsky Krai at the end of the 20th and beginning of the 21st centuries. Both of these publications have served as key resources in writing the history of contemporary art, as well as required reading for this exhibition.

The exhibition seeks to trace how the works of 20th century Vladivostok artists mark a departure from the formal preoccupations in art, towards the emergence of a critical position taken by the artist. The exhibition offers viewers a chance to see painting, drawings, videos, installations and photography from more than 20 Vladivostok artists, including Viktor Fedorov, Alexander Pyrkov, Alexander Kiryakhno, Fedor Morozov, Gennady Omelchenko, Yuri Sobchenko, Mikhail Pavin, Ilias Zinatulina, and others.

“Today the subject of nonconformism in art in the provinces is still widely ignored by academics. The goal of this exhibition is not only to bring new names into circulation, but also to show how art developed across the entire Primorsky Krai. Beyond that, it is an impressive selection of work, ranging from the first nonconformists to the practitioners of the neomodernism of the late 20th and early 21st century,” noted Natalya Levdanskaya.

To create an exhibition covering such a vast time span, the organizers went to private collectors and the families of the artists. A large portion of the works were provided by Arka Gallery and the Primorsky State Picture Gallery.

“We at the Primorsky State Picture Gallery have always taken an interest in and respect for new developments in the cultural life of Vladivostok and the Primorsky Krai. We certainly could not pass up this project by Zarya Contemporary Art. In our opinion, it offers a fresh perspective on Primorsky artists, providing an objective appraisal of the region’s fine arts within the context of the contemporary art scene,” Primorsky State Picture Gallery director Alena Datsenko observed.

Download the catalog here.