Deep in Chistye Prudy, one of Moscow’s oldest districts, parallel to Chisty Prudny Boulevard is a gallery called Studio 11. The gallery opened recently; in December 2008, but is a cultural hotspot dating back to before the revolution. Valentin Kataev, a well-known prose writer of the middle of the last century, lived here and from then onwards the flat became a regular haunt of Sergei Yesenin, Velemir Klebnikov, Valdimir Mayakovsky and Ilf and Petrov. The flat was turned into a communal flat during the Soviet period. The artist Suro managed to reclaim the premises, and it has now become both his own studio, and also a gallery with a working, in-touch-with-reality atmosphere. The curator of Studio 11 is Zarina Taiz, who talked to Passport about the gallery and the art that is shown there.
How did Studio 11 start?
It all started when I started to sell the pictures of an artist called Suro, here in Moscow. The idea came of expanding his flat into a gallery, and this finally happened Iast December.
What kind of art do you prefer to concentrate on here?
Mostly contemporary painting and some sculpture. Mostly we exhibit modern artists who have been active since the end of Perestroika, and new emerging artists. Most of our artists are already established artists, with an art school education. I am not so keen on the new ‘primitive’ style, and although I recognize this as being a valid school of art, I just don’t like those people who use this style because they really cannot paint at all, and call themselves artists. Some people say they have worked with some well know conceptualist or have a humanitarian education as if that in itself is a passport to success. I like people who recognized at a young age that they are artists, dedicated themselves, developed their art over a long period of time, and have achieved something really worthwhile, such as the ‘Vosmedesyatniki’, [artists from the 1980s].
Who, generally speaking, is your public?
That is difficult to say, because each artist has his or her own following; but mostly educated people, among whom are usually a few art collectors; among them, Russians, Americans and Japanese. There are some embassies near here, and some of their staff have become regular visitors, including ambassadors.
What would you like to do in the future?
I like to discover and promote previously undiscovered new artists, and show something new in art. In the Soviet Union we had socialist realism, then that all finished and now although we now have a lot of conceptualist art, traditional painting is not going to disappear. It is still a mainstream form of artistic expression and nobody has the right to just dismiss it as being irrelevant. I think that the old medium of oil painting on canvas is very beautiful, and I want to promote that as an important, viable and meaningful form of art. Of course there is nothing wrong with conceptualism, it is alive, but it works best in museums in large exhibition spaces, not as things you can put up at home or as things you can keep and enjoy.
Is there a demand for such art nowadays?
We opened in December, and we have sold about 30 paintings already, and that, in Moscow is a lot. This goes to say that painting is a form of art that has a right to exist and also that we have been fortunate to exhibit good paintings.
You are also organizing an exhibition at the Central House of Artists?
Yes, this is an exhibition of one artist – Suro. The exhibition is called: Life Contrasts (Контрасты Жизни), and the work is mostly figurative; in this exhibition erotic. We are not talking about naked bodies, but suggestive eroticism. What we are trying to do at this exhibition is show how perceptions of eroticism have changed over the past 100 years. The exhibition starts on October 30.
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