Zurab Tsereteli. Garden of the Sun



TUE — SUN 12:00-21:00
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About the exhibition

The Moscow Museum of Modern Art presents a major solo exhibition of Zurab Tsereteli, one of the greatest masters of Russian art of the XX-XXI centuries, People's Artist of the USSR and the Russian Federation, President of the Russian Academy of Arts. The exhibition will mark his 90th birthday. The display takes place on two floors of the building at 25 Petrovka street – the venue where the Moscow Museum of Modern Art (MMOMA), founded and directed by the artist, was opened a quarter of a century ago. The project partner is a premium car brand from China HONGQI. Together with it, a special Silk Road project is prepared.

Along the exhibition route the main stages and vivid episodes of Tsereteli’s unique and extremely fruitful creative biography are chronologically marked. They cover a long and eventful period from the mid-1950s to the present day. Important milestones include the studies at the Faculty of Painting at the Tbilisi Academy of Arts (graduated in 1958) and the study of the his heritage at the Institute of History, Archaeology and Ethnography of the Georgian SSR; fateful meetings with Picasso and Chagall in Paris in the mid-1960s and the work as chief artist of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs at the Soviet embassies in Japan, Brazil, Portugal, Syria and other countries; teaching in the USA in the late 1970s and decorating the Moscow Olympics; creating the most important, symbolically significant for contemporary Russia monumental ensembles and urban planning projects in the 1990s-2010s and installing prestigious sculptural monuments all over the world; finally, successfully leading the Russian Academy of Arts for more than twenty-five years.

In accordance with Tsereteli's central idea of the synthesis of the arts, the exhibition presents works in a wide range of materials and techniques – from paintings and drawings to circular and relief sculpture, from enamels and stained glass to tapestries and mosaics. At the same time, the paintings and graphic compositions, including very recent ones, which serve as a daily creative exercise for Tsereteli and are formed into multi-year cycles, will allow to trace the evolution of the author's handwriting, the inexhaustible variability of images and impressions. They give an opportunity to feel the pulse of the artist’s figurative thinking.

Rare works from the student period, created largely under the influence of teachers who connected the young artist to the traditions of the pre-revolutionary classical school of St. Petersburg are shown. So are the early paintings, marked by an active search for his own voice. There are also the works from the 1960s and 1980s, when Tsereteli became one of the main representatives of Soviet monumental modernism, the author of spectacular compositions that decorated resorts on the Black Sea coast and public buildings in various cities of the USSR. And, of course, the exhibition demonstrates the main easel series of the newest stage of the artist’s creative path, marked by scale, technical complexity and visionary spirit. In these years, Tsereteli fully embodied the image of a universal artist, freely transcending the boundaries of techniques, genres and styles. Confidently working with large concepts, he seems to control the pure force of art.

Special sections of the exposition are thought to be the stops on the viewer’s way. Mythological, Christian and historical themes, important for understanding Tsereteli’s artistic philosophy, are revealed in three separate rooms, which focus on the artist's cross-cutting characters-heroes (Prometheus, St. George and Peter the Great). Other dedicated spaces are the graphics and sculpture rooms, a workshop-amphitheatre, where the artist’s newly painted pieces are displayed in the genre of one-work exhibition. There is also photo gallery of selected public monuments from the late 1960s to the present day, both in Russia and abroad. The exhibition is complemented by archive photographs and rare documentary films. All the works come from the author’s collection in Moscow and Tbilisi. The viewers can also see a stained-glass window installed by the artist in the museum for its opening in 1999.

The key to interpret the exhibition is the image of a sunny garden. This poetic and visual archetype is at the core of Tsereteli’s art. Solar and cosmogonic symbols, motifs of blossom, abundance of flora and fauna, signs of heavenly luminaries go from painting to painting. They find embodiment, for example, in countless floral still lifes with artist's favourite sunflowers. They also manifest themselves in a whole variety of media, not only in easel works, but in large public ensembles. On a metaphorical level, Tsereteli understands the figure of the artist as a kind of gardener, capable of cultivating and transforming social reality in all its complexity. Garden of the Sun is intended to open to the viewer the powerful mythopoetic space of Tsereteli's works – the space of beauty and vitality, where the natural and the human, the archaic and the modern, the contemplative and the active reside in a harmonious, creative unity.

Silk Road – a special MMOMA × HONGQI project – goes along with the large monographic exhibition on the ground floor of the museum on Petrovka street. The title of the exhibition refers to the route that historically connected East Asia with the Mediterranean, and is a kind of allusion to the core values of the HONGQI car brand, aimed at building links between traditional Eastern culture and the modern world and technological progress. The centrepiece of the project is a sculpture of the same name by Zurab Tsereteli, who combines a classical understanding of art with an individual vision. He has been transforming his style for decades and is constantly expanding the geography of his artistic activity. This work was created by the artist in 2017 and first presented in 2023 at a solo exhibition at the National Art Museum of China, Beijing (NAMOC), and remains in the museum's collection. The exhibition includes works by young contemporary artists Anastasia Artemova and Misha Most, inspired by the history and philosophy of the HONGQI brand. They offer their own view on the connection between the past, present and future. They also work with the idea of progress and reflect on traditions and values that claim to be timeless.

About the partner

HONGQI (Chinese for “Red Banner”) is a premium car brand from China with a long history and rich heritage. It was founded in 1958 and for more than half a century specialised in producing luxury executive cars exclusively for the needs of the country's government agencies, top executives and political leaders. In 2018, a decision was made to transform the brand, resulting in the creation of a range of HONGQI cars available for sale, aimed at the most successful and wealthy members of society. The current HONGQI model range in Russia includes 6 models: flagship executive sedan H9, premium full-size electric crossover E-HS9, business class minivan HQ9, premium full-size crossover HS7, business sedan H5 and mid-size crossover HS5.

The brand's design is based on a synergy of traditional luxury and modern technological advances, and is intended to epitomise exceptional taste, refinement and leadership on the road to excellence. The design of the trademark grille with 12 vertical slats refers to the ancient traditions of Chinese chronology, symbolising the cyclic signs of the twelve-decimal cycle – the Earth Branches. HONGQI is a part of the leading group of the Chinese car industry – FAW Group. The official distributor of HONGQI cars on the Russian market is FAW Eastern Europe LLC.

Automotive partner of the anniversary year

Official water of the project

Media partners

Radio partner


Bagebi Sunflowers 2013 © MMOMA press

From the Old Tiflis series 2013 © MMOMA press

Li-Lik-Lika 2010 © MMOMA press

I was born a gardener 2015 © MMOMA press

Music 1990 © MMOMA press

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