Critics’ Picks

Untitled (after Metro Goldwyn Mayer), 2005.

Untitled (after Metro Goldwyn Mayer), 2005.

Moscow

Yevgeniy Fiks

ARTStrelka-Projects
Bersenevskaya Naberezhnaya, D. 14, Str. 5
December 24, 2005–January 20, 2006

Russia-born, New York–based artist Yevgeniy Fiks’s first solo exhibition at this gallery centers on Hollywood movies produced during WWII that, depicting popular(ist) images of life in Soviet Russia, were meant to improve the American public’s opinion of the wartime ally against Germany—or so Franklin D. Roosevelt hoped. Fiks’s “Songs of Russia” paintings capture key moments in films like The North Star and Mission to Moscow with a quick, Photorealist style that recalls socialist realist painting. The imprimatur of ’40s Hollywood is likewise evident in the works’ richly variant black-and-white tonalities and the presence of corporate logos. There is clearly a pro-Soviet propagandist style to images—militant women fighting the Nazis; Russian folk choirs; Stalin’s trials—that were manufactured to offset the anti-Russian sentiment that followed the October Revolution. But the display of the paintings against bright pink walls undermines the dogmatic self-determination of Soviet Russia (and atrocities perpetrated by the Stalinist regime) by alluding to the rose-colored cinematographic lens trained on the subject at the American government’s request. Fiks’s survey of Hollywood’s involvement with “immoral” propaganda is funny and clever in its unique approach to the historical connections between politics and image production.