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Thirty Years Not Down the Drain

Sergey Safonov, Konstantin Sutyagin, Aleksandr Shevchenko

from October 3 to October 20, 2019, Roza Azora Gallery 

The first collaborative exhibition of these artists, entitled “Ten Years Down the Drain”, took place in 1998 in a subterranean artist’s studio on Ol’khovskaia Street, now long gone. Its owner, the artist and participant in the project at the time, Vadim Stain, has long since emigrated to the USA. As for the period of time ‘ten years’ was chosen completely at random. It has never been possible to say with accuracy when any of these young artists definitively became painters.

Konstantin Sutiagin: “In the 1990s painting pictures seemed such a ridiculous, pointless enterprise… why not just sell bonds! But it turns out that painting has outlived everything. It is astonishing. Even the Buran Programme got shut down, but we still continue to paint. It is difficult to imagine today (I still cannot believe it myself) that not so long ago I was painting the red chocolate factories by Krimskii Most, without the Peter I statue in the skyline. Or that several years ago I painted Red Square, with the Hotel ‘Russia’ standing in the background…’

The second exhibition, bearing the more uplifting title ‘Twenty Years Not Down the Drain’, with an accompanying publication, took place at the ‘Ekspo-88’ Gallery on the Solyanka – this is perhaps because this gallery, one of the oldest in Moscow – also started up in 1988. Yet another former participant of the ‘concession’, Evgenii Stasenko, founder of the Baumanskaia School of Art, which both young Konstantin Sutiagin and Aleksandr Shevchenko attended, emigrated to Spain in the ten-year period between the second exhibition and this exhibition, hanging on the walls of the Roza Azora Gallery.

On the whole, the narrative roughly develops along the lines of the rhyme of 10 little Soldiers: “And then there were three…”

Naturally, 10 years is not enough time for valuable creative communication, and a small-scale exhibition, made up of the works of different decades, cannot act as an exhaustive three-part portrait. However, the previous decades have been full of group and solo exhibitions, various individual and collaborative publications, and the artists’ projects at the Kovcheg Gallery, whose existence also dates back to that symbolic year, 1988. Sergei Safonov then became one of its founders. These three artists met at the Kovcheg Gallery in the 1990s, at one of the Artists’ Club meetings.

Brief biographies of the participants in the project

Sergei Safonov was born in Moscow in 1963. In 1985, he graduated from the faculty of art and graphic design at MGPI, his graduate thesis – the triptych of paintings ‘Moscow Embankments’. From 1982 his work featured in professional exhibitions and was a member of the Moscow Union of artists. In 1988, he became one of the founders of the Moscow art gallery ‘Kovcheg’, still run by the same curator. From 2002 to 2008 he worked as an art columnist for the daily publication ‘Gazeta’. He authored numerous publications on fine arts and the modern artistic process in magazines ‘Neprikosnovennii Zapas’, ‘ArtKhronika’, ‘Iskusstvo’, ‘Dekorativnoe Iskusstvo’, ‘Iunii khudozhnik’, ‘Khudozhestvennii Sovet’, ‘Gde’, ‘Ogonek’, ‘Persona’, ‘Nashe Nasledie’, New-York magazine ‘Slovo/Word’, in newspapers ‘Vremia MI’, ‘Vremia Novostei’, ‘Novaia Gazeta’ and other publications both online and in print. His work can be found in private collections in Russia and abroad.

Konstantin Sutiagin was born in Ufa in 1964. In 1986, he graduated from MVTU Bauman University, in 1988 his work began to be featured in exhibitions, and since 1994 he has been a member of the Moscow Union of artists. Solo exhibitions of the artist’s work have taken place in Moscow, St Petersburg, Novosibirsk, Paris, London, Cologne, Tokyo, Seoul, New-York, Atlanta and other cities. The works of Sutiagin can be found amongst the Tretyakov Gallery’s collections, as well of those of the Russian Museum, the Radishchev Art Museum (Saratov), the Moscow Museum of Modern Art, the Novosibirsk State Art Museum, the Tomsk Regional Art Museum, the Altai Art Museum (Barnaul), the Novokuznetsk Art Museum, and even the Museum of Russian Art (MORA, Jersey City, USA), the Museum of Modern Art OSNY (France), the Kovcheg Gallery, and in editions of the magazine ‘Nashe Nasledie’ and other collections.

Aleksandr Shevchenko was born in Leningrad in 1964. In 1988, he started to participate in annual youth exhibitions, in 1998 he joined the Moscow Union of Artists. Today his works are kept in the collections of the Moscow Museum of Modern Art, museums in Tomsk, Novokuznetsk, Novosibirsk, and also in the Altai Museum of Fine Art, the A.S Popov Central Museum of Communications (St Petersburg), the Kovcheg Gallery and in private collections.

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