budapest

View of “Absolute Beauty–Neoacademism in Saint Petersburg,” 2015. Photo: József Rosta.

“Absolute Beauty”

Ludwig Museum - Museum of Contemporary Art | Budapest

View of “Absolute Beauty–Neoacademism in Saint Petersburg,” 2015. Photo: József Rosta.

Shot in the Neoclassical splendor of Saint Petersburg, Russia’s Mikhailovsky Palace, Igor Bezrukov’s eight-minute-long film The Red Square, or the Golden Ratio, 1999, follows a would-be painter (played by gender-bending artist Vladislav Mamyshev-Monroe) who, after carefully studying the Venus de Milo, paints a red square. Enraged, his teacher (artist Timur Novikov in a top hat and monocle, though he had recently gone blind) bends his pupil over and proceeds to spank the avant-garde out of him. The parable concludes with the student producing a perfect Aphrodite as the master looks on, beaming.

Screened as part of “Absolute Beauty–Neoacademism in Saint Petersburg,” Bezrukov’s film encapsulates the ambiguities and contradictions at the heart of the New Academy, an artistic phenomenon born of the cultural permissiveness of the perestroika period. The electrically charismatic Novikov

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