To coincide with the 100th anniversary of the 1917 Russian Revolution, Tate Modern presents the first major museum exhibition in the UK of artists Ilya and Emilia Kabakov. The exhibition entitled Not Everyone Will Be Taken into the Future explores the couple’s place in the international story of conceptual art and offers the opportunity to view rarely seen works together for the first time in the UK.
The Kabakovs are have gained a reputation for their large-scale installations which draw upon the culture of the former Soviet Union and addresses universal themes such as utopia, dreams, fears and the human condition. The exhibition features around 100 works in a range of media, including paintings, drawings, albums, models and installations.
The exhibition begins with some of Ilya Kabakov’s early drawings from the 1960s and his innovative Ten Characters series of albums. His studio flat in Moscow was the centre of an unofficial Moscow art scene where he showed his work to fellow artists. Being an unofficial artist led Ilya Kabakov’s to begin to question the role of the artist in a state system.
The artist looked back to the past for a time in Russia when artistic experimentation was considered after the 1917 Revolution before the dominance of Social Realism in the 1930s restricted any meaningful artistic development.
In the 1980s, Ilya created The Man Who Flew into Space From His Apartment 1985, it was his first ‘total’ installation and explores how the communal apartments in the Soviet Union restricted any individual freedom.
With the sculptural installations, Trousers in the Corner 1989 and I Catch the Little White Men 1990, similar themes are revisited but the scale has changed.
Three Nights 1989 finds three large paintings obscured by a large screen which offers limited and unusual views.
One of the most dramatic installations is Not Everyone Will Be Taken into the Future by Ilya and Emilia in 2001, a train is leaving the station with those selected to be part of the future, discarded canvases are reminder that artists are often at the whims of patrons who discard them if they are unfashionable or not willing to toe the line.
The dissolution of the Soviet Union in the 1990’s becomes a theme for the Kabakovs in the 2000s, pictures resembling Soviet paintings are torn and ripped with different pieces bought together in a fragmented style. They seem to say that Social Realism has been torn apart by Social Reality.
The next installation, Labyrinth (My Mother’s Album) 1990 looks at the past on a more personal level, a corridor is full of photographs and collages telling the story of the artist’s mother.
This fascinating exhibition introduces the work Ilya and Emilia Kabakov to a wider audience and explores how Russian artists who were restricted by State system made sense of the decline of that system. Not Everyone Will Be Taken into the Future also explores the often transient nature of fame for artists, the title refers to an essay about Russian artist Kazimir Malevich who was one of the artistic heroes of the post 1917 Revolution Soviet Union before being discarded in the 1930s.
Video Review available here
Visiting London Guide Rating – Highly Recommended
For more information or book tickets , visit the Tate Modern website here
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