Critics’ Picks

Oleg Elovoy, Beer in the Garden, 1995, oil on canvas, dimensions unknown.

Oleg Elovoy, Beer in the Garden, 1995, oil on canvas, dimensions unknown.

Yekaterinburg

“Elovoy and the Surroundings”

Ekaterinburg Museum of Fine Arts
5 Voyevodina St
June 25–October 3, 2021

Curated by art historian Irina Kudriavtseva, this exhibition aims to restore some forgotten pages in the chronicles of the Ural contemporary-art community by revisiting one of its key figures: Oleg Elovoy (1967—2001). The artist was born in the Siberian town of Ilansky, more than one 150 miles east of Krasnoyarsk. In the mid-1980s, he moved to Yekaterinburg (then Sverdlovsk), where he studied design at the Institute of Architecture. From the very start, he proved to be an active participant—and later organizer—of the art scene and its various collectives. This was the time of perestroika, when underground art first came to light and young artists began to catch up hungrily on all that hadn’t been permitted during the earlier Soviet period: Land art, Happenings, Actionist performances, guerilla public interventions, etc. Elovoy’s attraction to minimalist and outsider art led to the development of what the artist called “simple painting,” a style of representation that imitated naïve art. This tendency can be seen in Greyhounds and Semyon, 1995, a primitivist portrait of the artist’s cat and two dogs; Beer in the Garden, 1995, a gathering of dour figures; and Watermelons on the Table, 1995, which veers into almost abstraction. In 1997, Elovoy collaborated with artists Dmitry Bulnygin and Alexander Golizdrin and future “Blue Noses” Viktor Mizin and Alexander Shaburov on the total installation Post-VDNKh at the Ekaterinburg Museum of Fine Art. The exhibition—captured in the current show through photo and video documentation—featured multiple performances that reflected on a post-Soviet culture of consumption. “Elovoy and the Surroundings” supplements the works of the artist and his friends with those from the contemporary scene, as a means of demonstrating how Elovoy’s influence persists to this day.