NEW YORK, NY.- Marlborough Gallery
opens on September 16th a thought-provoking exhibition by the Russian born artist, Grisha Bruskin. Entitled Twilight of the Gods the show will consist of an installation featuring thirty-three bronze sculptures which the artist cast in Tuscany, Italy and placed underground for several months in order to give them the appearance of an archaeological patina through the earths natural chemicals. Exhibited with the sculptures will be large photographs which the artist uses to document the process and which with the bronzes serve as a means for establishing a mythology. The artists basic idea for the installation is to create artifacts of a lost civilization.
The mythology in question relates to the mythology of communism. Bruskin was born in 1945 in Moscow and grew up behind the Iron Curtain. He emigrated to the US in 1989.
He states, Long ago, living in communist Russia it seemed to me that communism was unshakable, that the army was incredibly strong, that the KGB was everywhere, and that Soviet power, like Egypt under the Pharaohs, would last for a few thousand years. I wanted to look into the mythological space that I inhabited, but from the side, taking the position of a scientist who has unexpectedly discovered an unknown African tribe. I liked the oscillating position of author when on the one hand I was a dispassionate researcher and on the other a member of the tribe being studied. My idea was to send a message to the man of the future. To propose that he look at my art the same way that we look at the art of ancient Egypt. But the message that I sent would have to be false and deceptive since the true artifact of the communist myth was the art that created that myth: the art of social realism. When the historical magician waved his wand and Russias communist pyramid came crashing down, the circle closed. The man of the future turned out to be me. Circumstances made me into a guide, a kind of Virgil inviting travelers to take a look at the world of the submerged Atlantis of which I was once a citizen.
Bruskins art is largely based on the use of symbols of one kind or another. In the same way that the letters of the alphabet are symbols and when put together form words which are themselves symbols which put together make sentences and ideas, in Bruskins paintings he arranges figures which have symbolic meaning to form a visual vocabulary, or lexicon, which relate ideas and which according to the artist contain underlying meanings and code through their juxtaposition. The artist states, To me each personage has a specific meaning. All of them make up a kind of text. Each personage is a letter in my own alphabet. In this show the artist uses sculptures as symbols of propaganda. The sculptures appear in fragmented form to resemble fragments of sculpture from a lost civilization and at the same time represent symbolic remnants of the dissolved Soviet Union. They depict archetypes of an idealized people such as a farmer, a teacher, a soldier; types that were embodied in the countless sculptures seen everywhere in Russia under the communist regime and which manifested an alienating ideology and a mythical Soviet world. In regard to the photographs in the exhibition the artist says they are the work of the scientist-astronomer. The telescope of the researcher transforms petty idols into felled giants. The picture of the world acquires a Wagnerian, eschatological scale, turning into a veritable Gotterdammerung, into a veritable end of history and into a veritable Fall of the Gods.
Bruskin graduated from the Art Department at the Moscow Textile Institute in 1968. The following year he became a member of the Soviet Artists Union and had three exhibitions which were all closed by the Soviet authorities. A pivotal opportunity presented itself in 1988 when his painting, Fundamental Lexicon, was sold in Moscow at Sothebys first Russian Avant-Garde and Soviet Contemporary Art auction in 1988. This brought him to the attention of the international art world and ignited his career. In 1999 Bruskin was chosen to represent Russia with a permanent installation at the redesigned Reichstag, home to the German parliament, in Berlin. The artist has studied Judaism widely and deeply. In so doing he realized that Judaism did not create a system of visual symbols like ancient Egypt or Christianity or the Soviet Union. He says, When I saw this hole it was very seductive to fill it, not with the pretension to create a religious iconography in a serious way that would be crazy but as an artistic experience.
Bruskin is represented in the following public collections among others: The Art Institute of Chicago, Illinois; Museo Galeria de Arte, Caracas, Venezuela; Israel Museum, Jerusalem; Jewish Museum, New York, N.Y.; Kunsthalle Emden, Germany; Museum Ludwig, Cologne, Germany; The Museum of Modern Art, New York, N.Y.; Portland Museum of Art, Maine; State Pushkin Museum of Fine Arts, Moscow, Russia; State Russian Museum, St. Petersburg; Russia and State Tretyakoff Gallery, Moscow.