ALEXANDER GRIGORIEV. ON TRANSPARENCE: OPTICAL MEDIA
The Collection of Roman Babichev
Date: FEBRUARY 22 — APRTIL 16, 2023
Venue: ММОМА, 25 PETROVKA
Curated by Roman Babichev and Maria Doronina
The Moscow Museum of Modern Art presents On Transparency: Optical Media, the first full-scale and extensive display of the works of Alexander Grigoriev, a hallmark artist for the soviet kinetic art and its creative experiments. More than 150 works, created between 1960 and 2022, will be on display. Among them are paintings and graphic sheets, photographs, collages and objects from the collection of Roman Babichev, as well as selected works from the collection of the Moscow Museum of Modern Art.
The origins of Grigoriev’s work can be traced to the second half of the 1960s, when he joined the Dvizhene (Movement) group, the circle of artists that played a key role in the development of the movement. Arisen on the wave of the general liberalization of the 1950s and yet in line with the inherent inclination towards scientism, by the end of the 1960s, the Dvizhene (Movement) group retained the impulse of life-building and the expectations of the Khrushchev Thaw period. In many ways, its members associated the images of the future with the development of science and technology, expanding the possibilities of understanding the world, its systematization, and further progressive change. Within the framework of collective practice, Grigoriev was engaged in designing both architecture for city events and cyber environments, spectacular futurological theatrical and gaming spaces. Together with Lev Nussberg, Galina Bitt, Francisco Infante and other artists, he participated in the development and staging of kinetic games. After the breakup of the group in the 1970s, the artist continues to engage in constructive-kinetic design, but concentrates mostly on painting, exploring the expressive possibilities of the picture space and the psychophysiological features of visual perception.
Being mainly engaged in the development of polyphonic systems of geometric ornament, which connects his works with the classical Western Op-art, Grigoriev focuses on a detailed examination of the critical laws of visual effect. The limits and response possibilities of the human eye and its relation to cognitive functions form the central object of his interest. Transparent media are the elements of the eye that transmit and refract light rays and organize the systems of vision available to us. In other words, this is a material texture that allows one to transmit information serving as a mediator between different particles of the physical world. A kaleidoscope of their dynamic and continuous movement unfolds within the walls of this exhibition, highlighting the crucial stages of the artist’s practice and the fundamental principles of eye texture.
Alexander Grigoriev (b. in 1949, Leningrad) graduated from the Faculty of Architecture of the Saint Petersburg State University of Architecture and Civil Engineering. In 1968 as a member of the Dvizhenie (Movement) group, he developed a design for the Orlyonok pioneer camp in the North Caucasus. Participated in group exhibitions: 50 Years of Soviet Circus (1969), Electronics (1970), Chemistry-70 (1970), Electro-72 (1972) and others. Grigoriev took part in kinetic games in nature: Aliens in the Forest (Chertanovo, Moscow, 1971) and Kinetic Games at Sea (Crimea, 1972). In 1972 he left the Dvizhenie (Movement) group. In 1974 created a kinetic ensemble for the exhibition Student Creativity (together with G. Antonov); author of scenography and costumes for the theatrical and kinetic performance Game of Forms of the Dynamica group. In the mid-1970s he designed and implemented several stage performances: The Pagan Cross and The Wandering Line (1975–1976), and The Lost Arrow (1978). In 1973–2005, he worked as a freelance graphic artist of the publishing house Znanie. The permanent participant of exhibitions of the City Committee of Graphic Artists, the Vernisage association and exhibitions devoted to kinetic art: Transatlantic Alternative. Kinetic Art and Op-Art in Eastern Europe and Latin America in the 1950s-1970s (MSI «Garage», Moscow, 2018), Laboratory of the Future. Kinetic Art in Russia (CEH Manezh, St. Petersburg; New Tretyakovka, Moscow, 2020–2021) and others. Author of the project Reflection of the Circle on Khitrovskaya Square in Moscow (2021, arch. A. Punin). At the present time continues his creative activity. His works are held in the State Tretyakov Gallery, the Bochum Art Museum (Germany), and private collections. He lives and works in Moscow.