Six Artists to Watch Among Russia’s Post-Soviet Generation

Artsy Editorial
Sep 10, 2014 5:35PM

Next week, the Cosmoscow art fair re-emerges on the Moscow art horizon after four years of silence. For the second edition, the organizers have secured the best venue in the city, Manege—just two steps away from the Red Square—and have managed to compile a collector’s committee that boasts the names of Antoine Arnaud and Natalia Vodianova. Cosmoscow serves two equally important goals: it brings high-end international galleries to the city and gives visibility to many emerging talents from Russia. Here are six artists—born in the USSR but established in the new Russia—ready to take their place in the international scene.

Ivan Gorshkov at H.L.A.M (Voronezh)

For nearly five years, this young artist from Voronezh has challenged the strength of the roughest materials—he works mainly with steel, or rather with rusted metal pieces that he finds around the city. Welded together and subjected to the artist’s hammer, they take on new shapes; Gorskov works the course material until it emerges as a noble, though weathered, creature.

Anastasia Potemkina at Anna Nova (Saint Petersburg)

Anastasia Potemkina, an artist born and based in Moscow, explores the fear and aggression that pervade the everyday, in works that criticize behavioral codes of patriarchal society and mass culture. Her objects, installations, drawings, and photographs focus on overseen details of violence; she turns a bruise on her body into a tattoo, or adds a scene of a terrorist attack to a reproduction of Degas’s ballerinas to play with notions of normality and absurdity.

ZIP Group at XL Gallery (Moscow)

This group of four young artists from Krasnodar took their name from the Factory of Measuring Devices (or ZIP in Russian), a derelict soviet-era building that they have turned into the artistic heart of the city. Masters of total installation, ZIP constantly refer to the utopian community experiments of the past and their interest in the history of Suprematism and Constructivism. Despite this charged context, their works win with their humor, witty use of Soviet-style details and—last but not least—strong belief in a possibility of positive change through art.  

Olya Kroytor at Artwin (Moscow) 

This Moscow-based artist divides her practice between staging physically challenging performances—lying naked in humid soil or standing on a pole for two hours in a row—and producing graphically impeccable collages based on Soviet newspapers from the 1970s and ’80s. The unifying thread, though, can be found in her effort to reconcile the opposites, submissiveness and force in one case, utopia and its remnants in another. 

Tanya Ahmetgalieva at Marina Gisich Gallery (Saint Petersburg)

Saint Petersburg-based artist Tanya Ahmetgalieva is best known for her witty reinvention of embroidery. She “draws” her canvases with threads, transforming a rather conventional technique into installation art. Colorful lines intervene in the physical space of her “paintings,” forming nets and clews on the floor; or just hanging down and offering an entry point to a poetic world filled with artist’s personal memories and dreams. 

Anya Titova at 21 (Moscow)

Trained at the Glasgow School of Art and the Valand School of Fine Arts in Gothenburg, Anya creates minimalist, neatly orchestrated installations with an air of aloofness to them. They capture the viewer’s attention with their mildly absurdist quality and sense of tension—transparent screens reveal rather than conceal, round vases are placed on the very edge of a shelf, a hoodie hangs on a guillotine-like hanger. 

Anna Arutiunova  

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Artsy Editorial