Joseph Backstein, Ekaterina Degot and Boris Groys. Glasnost: Soviet Non-Conformist Art from the 1980s. London: Haunch of Venison, 2010.
In 2010 the (sadly missed) Haunch of Venison gallery in London presented a rare survey of paintings, sculptures and photographs by ‘unofficial’ Soviet artists, working just prior to the end of the Cold War. Glasnost: Soviet Non-Conformist Art from the 1980s introduced visitors to the spirited movements and styles that arose during this transformative period, from Sots Art by Komar & Melamid and Alexander Kosolapov, to Moscow Conceptualism by Ilya Kabakov and Erik Bulatov.
The exhibition title refers to the political reform of glasnost which, along with the new economic policy of perestroika, liberalised Soviet society in the mid-1980s. The new freedom afforded to artists, who had for decades been restricted by the requirement to only produce art that adhered to the official cultural style of Socialist Realism, led to a surge of experimental, provocative and satirical work.
The accompanying bilingual English-Russian exhibition catalogue features sumptuous reproductions of key works, biographies of all the artists, and explanatory texts by leading scholars in the field.
Image: Alexander Kosolapov, Molotov Cocktail, 1989. Acrylic on canvas, 164 x 201 cm. Courtesy Haunch of Venison and Galerie Volker Diehl