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16.01.2007

Kiev has acquired international art pieces

The PinchukArtCenter opened today in Kiev, becoming the largest private museum of its kind in Ukraine and nearly all the CIS.  The Center is opening with an exhibition "The New Space" where works of Ukrainian and Ukrainian-Russian artists are exhibited with  masterpieces of international art stars of the last decade. Kiev is represented by Irina Kulik.  The opening ceremony promises to be quite spectacular - the show is staged by an invited producer Yuriy Grymov. An eccentric couple known as Eve and Adele in the art world has already arrived in Kiev. The attendance of these live "works of art" - bald transvestites in female dresses - is an inseparable attribute of every solid vernissage.

The well-known Ukrainian businessman Victor Pinchuk established a fund "Modern Art in Ukraine" in 2003. In three years he has succeeded in gathering a rather solid, actually museum-like collection of contemporary art works. His private collection was replenished with traditional pieces of art - Russian impressionist paintings of the 19th Century. But the art center exhibits only the most contemporary pieces to educate the public. The foreign part of the event was guided by Nicola Burrio, one of the greatest authorities of the world art stage, an author of catalogues dedicated to the art on the edge of 20th and 21st centuries; one of the founders of the Paris exhibition Center Palais de Tokyo, and a supervisor of Moscow and last Lyons biennale of the contemporary art. Mr Burrio recommended a French architect Philippe Ciambarette for designing the museum building, and the latter succeeded in creating an exciting setting. The new museum is hiding behind a facade of a last century  elaborat European building. Even most heart-rending works, which are typical of the Slavic style, are exhibited here with a fashionable western comfort. A hall that contains a photo exhibition by Boris Mikhailov "Near the Land" is especially impressive: a little gloomy, as though seen through a basement window, Soviet provincial views hang, as the author planned it, far below the spectators' eyes level. But there is no necessity to double over to have a close look at the pictures: comfortable designer's banquettes are placed in the center of the hall. The Ukrainian contemporary art is represented by practically all famous names - from the patriarchy in a picture by Boris Mikhailov to the group "The Institution of Unstable Thoughts". The Kiev-based museum exhibits both works of artists who live and work in Ukraine, such as Vasiliy Tsagolov, Vladimir Kozhukhar, Aleksandr Gnilitskiy, Oleg Tistol, Arsen Savadov and "Ukrainian Moscovites" Sergey Bratkov and Oleg Kulik who are considered to still belong to their historical motherland by their countrymen.

The Ukrainian part of the exhibition contains occasional works created in the 20th  century. As for the western works, all of them are dated by the 2000s. "For Kiev, I wanted to create not just a museum of contemporary art but that of art of the 21st century," Mr Burrio said to a reporter. So, the principles the new collection is built on ignore traditional secondary works of paradigmatic classical artists like Picasso or Warhol, which is the rule for brand new museums, but allows fresh works of newly appearing stars - artists who are present at significant international exhibitions of the last century. They are Karsten Heller, Olafur Eliasson, Thomas Ruff or a very fashionable Indian Subodh Gupta. And works selected are really spectacular. Olafur Eliasson who became famous after the installation of his work "The Sun" in the turbine hall of the Tate Modern in London is represented by a six-meter "Upturned Tower of Shadows" - a tracery structure formed by fluorescent lamps that are lightened in a certain sequence. British artist Charles Sandison invites us for meditation to his dark "Living Rooms" with the walls where luminous letters are rotating forming the basic notions of human existence - "food", "dead", "old", "male", "female", "child"`... And "The Cuckoo" by French artist Franςois Xavier Vayan appears to be a fantastic aggregate, à la Jean Tangli, equipped with a complicated, absolutely nonfunctional and therefore comical system of colourful gear wheels, which are set in motion by balls rolling along the gutters.

It may seem that high-tech art of international art stars can be hardly combined with works of Ukrainians who are famous first of all for their paintings. But their grouping is not at all contradictory. Hyper-realistic, with a degraded view of "home video", paintings by Aleksandr Gnilitskyi perfectly match purposefully pixeled photos by a German artist Thomas Ruff and "The Orgy" with the participation of Hollywood stars created by Vasiliy Tsagolov finds an unexpected accord with a large-scale and looking like cheap popular print, work by a Thai painter Navi Ravanshaikul, who depicted all famous artists of the 20th century in the mise en scene "Marriage in Cana" by Veronese.

Generally, the Kiev new art center looks international both in form and in contents -- as any contemporary art museum should..
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