Andrei Rudyev exhibition “Leningradskaya”

30, January 2014 · Visiting Artists

January 31, an exhibition by Andrei Rudyev “Leningradskaya” opened at the “Ultramarin” gallery in Saint Petersburg. Curator: ‎Andrey Khlobystin

“Leningradskaya” is a small town (by Russian scale…) in the south of Russia. Having left the place in the age of 14, Rudyev visited it only scarcely. According to Rudyev, through the current exhibition he wishes to “pay respects” to his birth place, to define his ties with it, with his father-beekeeper, his family. It is also a way to analyze the results of Rudyev’s physical move from Leningradskaya to Leningrad (nowadays Saint Petersburg), as well as the metaphysical transformation accompanying this move.
The following text was written by the artist Alexander Dashevsky about Andrey Rudyev, reflecting in quite an accurate and utterly poetic way the quintessence of Rudyev’s creation.

The slideshow presents images from the exhibition “Leningradskaya” and works from other projects by Andrei Rudyev.


I have done some reading on Andrei Rudyev. The texts I have seen seem to be written about ten different artists. I thought of an aphorism I once heard: Rudyev is recognizable and resembles all the artists at the same time. Should the taint of Schadenfreude be removed from this thought, I would easily endorse it. And perhaps the author would do it, too – he did use the word ‘eclectics’ more than once to characterize his artistic method.
What does the artist like? Aliens and flying saucers. Everything related to shamanism – amulets, fetishes, averters. Various signs – from road and military signs to alchemic and mathematical ones. Brutal untidy surfaces. Pop-art and adverts. Deserted landscapes. Manuals, tables, diagrams. Standard things typical of the Soviet coziness like the portrait of Yesenin or a tapestry sporting deer. David Bowie. Penguins. Birches. Many other things. Anything that burnt into memory, struck or fascinated.
How does he structure the torrents of his images? How are his projects related to each other? There seems to be no connection or continuity between his artistic expressions.
However, certain characters and fragments do move from one to the next of his projects and they tell their strange stories hintingly, somewhere at the background. They mix in the enigmatic soup of his imagery, they bubble, bob up and sink back to the bottom. This means there must be some logic. And the taste of this soup – intensified and brought to perfection – seems slightly familiar.
This stew is made of Beuys, Wushu, Castaneda, Warhol, Bowie, Papus, Kiefer, UFO, Wesselmann, 600 Seconds news program, and Playboy and this stew was cooking in all the local heads in the mid-80s and early 90s. All its ingredients were whirling, warming, hoarding, luring, promising, inviting, yearning – romantically and quite energetically. Initiation was looming round every corner, an alien seemed to wait behind every tree. Every book promised secret wisdom, every picture suggested a revolution in art. Then time slowed down, the enthusiasm cooled off, all the unnecessary stuff was thrown out of the heads while all the necessary things formed a new order. This rings true for everyone except Rudyev. He, by contrast, came to cherish all this jazz, to protect, to foster, to develop and to coddle old ingredients adding from time to time something new. The further his works are from his beloved epoch, the less colour they sport and the more refined is their apparent nostalgia.
In his projects, intricate pictures, splinters, portraits, documents, roofing felt, and cheesecloth are laid out to form a huge faded photograph of that irretrievably mad and spectacular time.

Alexander Dashevsky
Text for the catalog of group exhibition “B/W SPB”, “ModernArt” gallery, Saint Petersburg, 2010.

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