Christianna Bonin

  • Manal AlDowayan, The Emerging, 2021, jesmonite and black wax, dimensions variable.
    picks December 07, 2021

    Manal AlDowayan

    An agglomeration of bent legs protrudes, impossibly, through the concrete floor. Viewed from afar, their matte blackness reads as sameness. Move closer, however, and their muscular curves and waxy surfaces become more varied. Each fragment remembers the imprints of the fingers that molded it into being.

    This is The Emerging, 2021, a mixed media installation by Saudi artist Manal AlDowayan. The assembly of body parts provides a leitmotif for her latest exploration of the precarious status of women in her home country. The repetition of these genuflecting forms might lead one to read the work as

  • Installation view of Ekaterina Muromtseva’s Difference in Time, 2021–21, mixed media, dimensions variable.*
    picks June 07, 2021

    Katya Muromtseva

    A black line unfurls across four white walls, its loops accumulating into tangled human figures. Some appear to embrace; others lunge at each other’s throats. It is impossible to tell where one form ends and the next begins.  

    This is Ekaterina Muromtseva’s Difference in Time 2020–21, an installation that consists of that site-specific mural, five videos, and a floor-to-ceiling acrylic painting. Born in Moscow in 1990, Muromtseva based the work on interviews with her peers in the first “post-Soviet” generation. “When was it,” she asks, “that you felt yourselves to be a part of history?”


  • Recycle Group and Blue Noses, Deflated Dollar, 2008, polyethylene, dimensions variable.
    picks March 12, 2020

    “Rough Seas, One”

    Disembodied chatter, clanging hammers, and the pulse of deep house welcome visitors to this exhibition, whose title references a popular Russian children’s game. These noises lead one between two white walls to Koridor, 2020, a sound installation for which Ben Papyan and Misha Kurilov have recreated the sonic palette of ZIP, a defunct measuring instruments factory that, until recently, hosted nightclubs and artist studios. It’s easy to confuse this audio for the actual buzz in ZIP’s former canteen, where Tipografia newly opened with financial support from local collector Nikolay Moroz and the

  • Adam Henein, Standing Owl, 1961, bronze, 18 1/2 x 17 1/2 x 8 1/2".
    picks November 01, 2019

    Adam Henein

    Legend has it that after the eight-year-old Adam Henein visited Cairo’s Egyptian Antiquities Museum, he saw a way to transform the ancient past into art—beginning with a sculpture of the pharaoh Ramses II, which he reproduced in clay. And that this tutelage guided him henceforth, through formal study in Cairo, Luxor, and Munich, such that Henein has now spent almost a century honing an oeuvre driven by modernist abstraction, Egypt’s profoundly long art history, and the material and visual overlaps between them. Thoughtfully curated by Sheika Noora Al-Mualla, this survey of work by the artist,

  • Liza Bobkova, Buffer zone, 2019, installation, dimensions variable.
    picks October 25, 2019

    Liza Bobkova

    Liza Bobkova has made some of today’s most vexingly opaque issues—those of privacy and encryption—central to her multimedia debut exhibition at MYTH gallery. The space, which collector Yulia Vyatkina and gallerist Olga Profatilo opened in May of this year, promises to play a tutelary role in exhibiting emerging artists in a city that has long thirsted for more contemporary-art venues. Bobkova has covered the gallery’s pristine white walls with numerical sequences in black crayon. These numbers, we find out, are actually messages the artist received from acquaintances on social media and later

  • Komar and Melamid, Girl in Front of a Mirror, 1981–82, oil on canvas, 71 3/4 x 49 3/4".
    picks May 20, 2019

    Komar and Melamid

    Vitaly Komar and Alexander Melamid may well have been the Soviet Union’s most infamous dissident artists. Unlike most nonconformists of the early 1970s who avoided Socialist Realism and the party’s mediated ideological aesthetics, they used communism’s stock images and phrases as fodder for their work. Curated by Andrei Erofeev and Joseph Backstein, this retrospective marks the artists’ first joint project since the end of their collaboration in 2003 and highlights their absurd knack for pricking politics—and the art world—in just the right spots. Early on in this roughly chronological display

  • Viktor Pivovarov, Portrait of Ruben Varshamov, Editor of the Journal Veselye Kartinki, 2017, oil on canvas, 3' x 2 1/2'.
    picks January 17, 2019

    Viktor Pivovarov

    Were it a kinder world, art history may have learned about Viktor Pivovarov sooner. Though he came of age aesthetically during the liberal Soviet 1960s, public artistic expression remained a precarious matter, and his first solo exhibition opened only in 1984, in Prague. Now, Moscow’s art institutions are making up for lost time. This show of recent paintings and a sound installation marks the fourth major exhibition of Pivovarov’s art since 2011. It demonstrates his continued ability to parse not only the form but also the hidden realities of life in Russia’s capital.

    The exhibition revolves

  • Luc Tuymans, Die Wiedargutmachung (Reparations), 1989, oil on canvas, oil on cardboard, 18 x 22, 15 x 18".
    picks December 17, 2018

    “Democracy Anew?”

    “There was never a democracy yet that did not commit suicide,” John Adams once conceded of the government he helped to establish. Rather than dictators, it was elected illiberal democrats that he believed would destabilize the system’s core values. Precisely that possibility concerns this multimedia exhibition, which was timed with the Yalta European Strategy conference on Ukraine’s “European future” and argues that there is no better time than the present to reinterpret democracy.

    Outside the museum, Kiev is covered with campaign posters that convey an urgent pursuit of democracy, with a violent

  • Leonid Tishkov, Ladomir. Flying City (sublimed object), 2006, Indian ink on paper, 17 x 9".
    picks October 29, 2018

    Leonid Tishkov

    Whether through science or spirituality, humans have long found respite from their terrestrial existence among the stars. So it was for the Russian Cosmists, a group of polymaths who developed a futuristic philosophy based on the Christian Orthodox faith at the turn of the twentieth century, melding technics and space travel with the humanist belief that we are active makers rather than spectators of the universe.

    “The Cosmism of Leonid Tishkov” is one of a spate of recent exhibitions that explore the Cosmists’ writings through contemporary art. At times, as in “Ladomir. Objects of Utopia,” 2006

  • Ariadna Arendt, Red Square and Actionists, 2017–18, GIF animation of oil paintings.
    picks July 30, 2018

    “Portal Zaryadye”

    When Zaryadye Park opened in Moscow in September 2017, it had a profound effect on how its visitors viewed the city. The designer space collects Russian climate zones and cuisines in the tradition of world’s fairs, using eco-futuristic technology and modern landscape design. Over eight million people have since wandered through it, photographing the adjacent Kremlin from the park’s artificial hills. Until “Portal Zaryadye,” however, Moscow has lacked a vantage from which to examine the project itself. Buoyed by thematic tension and critical drive, this multimedia exhibition excavates the aesthetic

  • Luboš Plný, Untitled, 2012, ink, acrylic, and stamp on paper, 33 x 23''.
    picks February 14, 2018

    Luboš Plný

    Model, janitor, railway electrician: If Luboš Plný’s myriad vocations exclude formal training in art, this sweeping exhibition confirms the artist’s prowess and the contemporary art world’s desire to embrace a practice it once considered “outsider.” Here, we see Plný mercilessly rive his body and psyche, amassing the effects of his self-criticism and physical depredation in collage, sculpture, and photography.

    In two collages from 2012 and 2014 (both Untitled), Plný draws his brain as delicate dissections. Each slice bristles with detail. Often, labels refer to body parts as well as the maladies

  • Ivan Picelj, Zvonimir Radic, Vjenceslav Richter, Aleksandar Srnec, Designs for the “Highway” exhibition set-up in Belgrade, 1950, ink, tempera, black-and-white photograph, cardboard, felt, 19 3/4 x 27 1/2".
    picks November 27, 2017

    EXAT 51

    As the Yugoslavian political regime liberalized in the aftermath of World War II, breaking from the Eastern Bloc, so too did the region’s artists. The group EXAT 51 (Experimental Studio 51) is a product of those years, when abstraction replaced Soviet socialist realism as the country’s official artistic style. A brain-scrambling number of the group’s art and design projects are presented here, highlighting EXAT 51’s fervent efforts to provide its society with new modes of self-representation.

    Because the exhibit, even with its thematic headings, largely seems to organize EXAT 51’s projects