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Knights of the Vine RUSSIA


Aline Kalinina


Pavel Kaplevich has been one of the most famous theatrical designers in Russia since the 1990s. He created costumes for such significant Russian theatre productions as “Nijinsky” starring Oleg Menshikov, and “Imago” starring Anastasia Verinskaya. Together with film director Vladimir Lungin he worked on the “Taxi-blues” movie. The image of Vladimir Mirzoev’s post-modernist theatre is based 100% on Kaplevich’s designs. For many years Kaplevich has been an insider at one of Moscow’s leading theatres—the Sovremennik. Here he has planted trees for the “Cherry Orchard” production, designed clothes for “Pygmalion” characters. A theatrical designer presenting his exhibition at the Triumph gallery should be no surprise, the local curators have always betted on projects that are theatrically interactive with the audience. Kaplevich’s current project “Godunov” is dedicated to Musorgsky’s opera of the same name. The opera is staged by Pavel’s old friend, Nina Chusova, in the Saratov Theatre of Opera and Ballet. Together

From January 20
Triumph Gallery
Building 5, 3/8 Ilyinka street
Open: 12:00-20:00, except Monday

they worked on the hilarious “Twelfth Night” at Limelight theatre, for example, mixing a Bolshoi musician performing Beatles songs with an all-male cast as in Shakespeare’s original “Globe” theatre.

The exhibition at the Triumph gallery is about 100 sketches and designs performed in unique techniques uniting wool and silk in one woven tissue, resulting in subtle and abstract landscapes, resembling French tapestries and Italian frescoes.

Elena Polenova’s world of fairy-tales

Courtesy of the Tretyakov Gallery

lena Polenova was a Russian painter and designer and the younger sister of another famous artist, Vasily Polenov. She was born in St Petersburg in 1850. As a girl she showed talent for drawing and from 1859 studied drawing under Pavel Chistyakov (1832-1919), an eminent Russian artist and teacher. In 1864 she also studied with Ivan Kramskoy at the Drawing School of the Society for the Encouragement of Artists (later Arts) in St Petersburg, and from 1869-1870 in the studio of Charles Chaplin in Paris. In 1875 Polenova and the famous activist of the women’s movement Nadezhda Stasova (1822-1895) organized women’s craft courses in St Petersburg; Polenova was in charge of the arts section. In 1880 she taught in the ceramic studio at the drawing school of the Society for the Encouragement of the Arts. In the 1870s Polenova worked mainly in water-colour, spending summers at the Imochentsy estate in Karelia and at the Olshanka estate in the Tambov province. Her landscape water-colours, carefully worked up from sketches, clean in colour and lyrical in mood, were shown from 1882 in exhibitions in St Petersburg and Moscow, where they were successfully accepted by the audience and were noticed by the critic Vladimir Stasov. Meanwhile her brother became acquainted with Savva Mamontov in Italy.

Courtesy of the Tretyakov Gallery

Several years later a circle of artists that would later be known as the Abramtsevo Colony was organised, and would include Ilya Repin, Victor and Apollinary Vasnetsov, Konstantin Korovin, Mikhail Vrubel and Elena and Vasily Polenov. Elena Polenova moved to Moscow in the early 1880s where she associated closely with the family of Savva Mamontov and began to play a prominent role in the activities of the Abramtsevo circle. The mansion where the group worked is itself interesting. It originally belonged to writer, Sergei Aksakov, who afforded hospitality to such writers as Nikolai Gogol and Ivan Turgenev. It was here that Gogol gave the first public reading of his classic novel Dead Souls. Later, when the mansion was sold by Aksakov’s daughter to art patron and entrepreneur Savva Mamontov in 1870, the story of Abramtsevo’s revival began. In 1885 Polenova and Yelizaveta Mamontova organized a carpentry and woodcarving studio here at the mansion, for which Polenova made sketches of furniture and carvings in the traditional national style. At the same time she made designs for embroideries and worked on ceramics and porcelain. In these designs and also in her illustrations for Russian folk tales, she worked in the ornamental manner of representation, stylizing motifs from national decorative art mainly in wood and embroidery. Polenova was closely involved in the development of this national romantic version of Art Nouveau within the Abramtsevo circle. The group often resided in Abramtsevo in the summer, enjoying the beautiful landscape, home theatre productions, and

December 16-February 26.
Open 10:00-19:00
every day except Monday
State Tretyakov Gallery
12, Lavrushinsky lane

tea parties in the open air. The estate church was designed by Vasily and Elena Polenov and the Vasnetsov brothers, and was the first Art Nouveau building in Russia. So along with Diaghilev’s Ballets Russes and the activity of the St Petersburg “World of Art” association, the Abramtsevo Colony were at the forefront of the Russian Art Nouveau movement. The Russian handicraft section of the Exposition Universelle in Paris in 1900 was based on drawings by Polenova in this style, with the collaboration of Aleksandre Golovin and Mariya Yakunchikova (1870-1902). The present exhibition at the Tretyakov gallery is dedicated to Polenova’s 160th jubilee and gives an insight into the early steps of Art Nouveau in Russia.

A corner of Abramtsevo
Photo by Aline Kalinina

Photo by Aline Kalinina

Dolce Napoli

The Tretyakov Gallery opens an exhibition dedicated to one of the most ancient cities in Italy—Naples. Throughout its history, Naples has been popular with travellers and artists. Its beauty was a source of inspiration for numerous artists who painted its landscapes, sketched the modest and gaudy costumes of vivacious local habitants, and tried to capture their characters in which Roman and Christian traits were mixed. This exhibiton is dedicated to Russian and Italian painters from the 18th to the middle of the 19th centuries. Among the exhibits are land- and seas- scapes, executed in paint and pen, also historical maps and ship plans of the 17th century when Naples was still the capital of the Kingdom of Naples. The juxtaposition of masters, the Russian paysagiste S. Schedrin (1791-1830) and painters from the Posillipo school, demonstrates the interaction of the two

Till March 11,
Open: 10:00-19:00, except Mondays
State Tretyakov Gallery

national landscape schools. Of equal interest are travel albums by the Russian artists A. Bryullov, S. Vorobiev, A. Ivanov and O. Kiprensky. The exposition consists of works from the stock of the Tretyakov Gallery, the Pushkin Museum of Fine Arts, Kremlin Museums, National Gallery of Modern Art (Rome), the San Martino Museum and National Museum of Capodimonte (Naples).

Courtesy of the Tretyakov Gallery

Lost illusions: Tsar Paul

Lost Illusions” is the title of an exhibition held at the Tsaritsyno Estate museum, dedicated to one of the most intriguing and controversial people in the history of Russia, Emperor Paul (1754- 1801), and marks the 210th year of his death. The project focuses on different aspects of Emperor Paul’s life: his reforms, internal and external politics, relations to the Malta Order, genre scenes of his epoch, and the conspiracy against him. Paul had been preparing for power for many years before he was crowned Emperor at the age of 42. By that time he had established for himself a programme to arrange a perfect

Till February 16
Tsaritsyno estate museum, open:
Wednesdays-Fridays 11:00-18:00, Saturdays
11:00-20:00, Sunday 11:00-19:00

state in Russia. His main tasks were to introduce reforms to the army, economics, external politics and culture. But even his closest circle considered his aspirations too idealistic. The ideas for his reforms were proclaimed in public as absurd. Within four years Paul became isolated inside his own circle and even family. Lost illusions are the main theme. This is an unprecedented project, uniting exhibits from fourteen museums in Moscow and St Petersburg, and from three state archives.

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