"Lydia Masterkova. An Enriched Retrospective"
The first retrospective exhibition in Russia of the nonconformist artist Lydia Masterkova (1927–2008) will bring together around 150 paintings and works on paper from private and museum collections in Russia and France.
Lydia Masterkova was among the first female artists to turn to abstract art after 1953. This is the first exhibition at Garage that is almost entirely devoted to abstraction, although it will feature some figurative works. Masterkova’s retrospective will be contextually enriched with other visions of abstract art.
Austrian artist Heimo Zobernig (b. 1958) will show works that demonstrate the alternative reality of the situation in Central Europe as opposed to the Soviet Union. There, after a short period of persecution in Nazi Germany and Austria, abstract art was completely rehabilitated and became an object of profound research, conceptual polemics, and jests. Zobernig’s tactile canvases exist somewhere between a joke and a conceptual rethinking of the relationship between the viewer and the artwork.
The exhibition is divided into eight parts. Five cover the evolution of Masterkova’s creative method. "Thicket" features her early studies from nature and first experiments in abstraction that bring to mind Mikhail Matiushin’s “organic culture” and his concept of “seeing-and-knowing” (Zorved). "Lacunae" explores the work of Efrosinya Ermilova-Platova, who Masterkova met before turning to abstraction. "Ruptures" presents the beginning of Masterkova’s mature period, when her focus shifted from vegetal form to textures and spatial plans within the painting. "Gold" looks at the short period when Masterkova made trips to abandoned churches, where she collected fragments of church attire to include in her collage paintings. In "Spheres and Numbers", the key themes of the mature painter find their final shape, and the cosmic sequence of numbers, rhythmic patterns, and circles becomes the main compositional principle. "Macrocosm" consists of works that Masterkova made after her emigration to Europe in 1975, a more precise and minimalist version of her earlier structures.
Separate galleries are given over to the "Rembrandt Series" by Eva Levina-Rozengolts, in which the artist revisits the humanitarian disasters of the Great Purge and the war, and three works by Heimo Zobernig, produced for the exhibition.
Zobernig also created the architectural concept. As the visitor progresses through the galleries, the walls lose their color and textural intensity. The first galleries feature elements of set design from several theaters in Moscow and St. Petersburg and toward the end the space is cleared of color. This gradient reflects the internal and external transformation of Masterkova’s art: from apartment exhibitions and close interactions with the environment to the strict autonomy of the white cube gallery and museum spaces.
CURATORS: VALENTIN DIACONOV AND SASHA OBUKHOVA
More about the project here
9/32 Krymsky Val st., 119049, Moscow, Russia, Garage Museum of Contemporary Art