Kabakov: Dreams & Reality

A must to go: Kabakovs multimedia project DREAMS & REALITY at Art Thessaloniki 2022

Ukrainian Artists Ilya & Emilia Kabakov: Four Stories of Escapism

One of Ilya Kabakov’s most famous and most influential works are the albums from the 10 Characters series, which he produced from 1968 – 1974 as an unofficial artist working in Moscow. This edition was issued in 1994-1996, out of which one edition of each album is donated by Kabakovs to the OSTEN Museum of Drawing in Skopje.

On occasion of 6th Art Thessaloniki Fair, November  2022, this work will be presented as an important contribution to art and culture within the parallel program.
While their work is rooted in the Soviet social and cultural context in which the Kabakovs came of age, the subject matters of their artwork extend beyond that experience to engage universal themes of memory, fantasy, and illusion and it became a subject about people in general: their fears and desires to escape from oppressive family situation, country, government, etc..“Ten Characters’ Albums”, particularly the Albums that are to be presented within the project “DREAMS & REALITY – Four Fables of Escapism” are sending universal messages by the characters who are trying to escape from the reality.

A must to know: All about the ESCAPING!!!

How many people in this world are doing the same, especially now with the pandemic going on for two years and with a danger of next WWIII now being almost a reality? People start trying to escape into dreams, fantasies, cooking, drugs and millions of other things we only can imagine. What are fairy tales, movies, books if not the way to escape from reality even if it’s for a few hours?… and all these are UNIVERSAL FEELINGS/NEEDS/URGES and METHODS of ESCAPISM.

About the “Ten Characters’ Albums”

One of Kabakov’s major output during the 1970s (besides the paintings created in that time period including his first conceptual painting “The Soccer Player”, 1964) consisted of albums like this one: collections of drawings and text assembled in “books” of 30 to 100 pages each and performed for friends and fellow artists at Kabakov’s famous Sretensky Boulevard attic studio. The 10 Characters albums were the first of this genre Kabakov created and remain the most influential on his later work and on ex-Soviet contemporary art in general. This series of albums can be seen as a turning point for Kabakov. The ten albums tell ten fables: they suggest ten positions from which a person can react to his world, ten psychological attitudes, ten perspectives on emptiness, ten parodies of the aesthetic traditions through which Kabakov evolved his vocabulary, ten aspects of Kabakov’s personality.

“10 Characters’ Albums” have been exhibited individually and collectively in museums around the world. The originals are in the collections of the Centre Pompidou in Paris. A two-volume catalogue was printed in 1995 to accompany exhibitions in the Contemporary Art Museums of Helsinki and Oslo.

Kabakov’s are holders of the GRAND PRIX for Lifetime Achievement at the OSTEN BIENNIAL of DRAWING Skopje 2020 and they are presented in the Biennial’s catalog by the text of prof. Manos Stefanidis “Kabakov: Ten Albums”.

About the artists Ilya & Emilia KABAKOV

Kabakovs are Russian-born, American-based artists that collaborate on environments that fuse elements of the everyday with those of the conceptual. While their work is deeply rooted in the Soviet social and cultural context in which the Kabakovs came of age, the subject matters of their artwork extend beyond that experience to engage universal themes of memory, fantasy, and illusion.

Ilya Kabakov was born in Dnepropetrovsk, Soviet Union, in 1933. He studied at the VA Surikov Art Academy in Moscow, and began his career as a children’s book illustrator during the 1950’s. He was part of a group of Conceptual artists in Moscow who worked outside the official Soviet art system. In 1985 he received his first solo show exhibition at Dina Vierny Gallery, Paris, and he moved to the West two years later taking up a six months’ residency at Kunstverein Graz, Austria. In 1988. Kabakov began working with his future wife Emilia (they were to be married in 1992). From this point onwards, all their work was collaborative, in different proportions according to the specific project involved.

Emilia Kabakov (née Lekach) was born in Dnepropetrovsk, Soviet Union, in 1945. She attended the Music College in Irkutsk in addition to studying Spanish language and literature at the Moscow University. She immigrated to Israel in 1973, and moved to New York in 1975, where she worked as a curator and art dealer. Emilia has worked side by side with Ilya since 1989.

Today Kabakov is recognized as the most important international artist to have emerged in the late 20th century. His installations speak as much about conditions in post-Stalinist Russia as they do about the human condition universally. Their work has been shown in such venues as the Museum of Modern Art, the Hirschhorn Museum in Washington DC, the Stedelijk Museum in Amsterdam, Documenta IX, at the Whitney Biennial in 1997 and the State Hermitage Museum in St. Petersburg, among others. In 1993 they represented Russia at the 45th Venice Biennale with their installation The Red Pavilion. The Kabakovs have also completed many important public commissions throughout Europe and worldwide and have received a number of honors and awards, including the GRAND PRIX for Lifetime Achievement at the OSTEN BIENNIAL of DRAWING Skopje 2020, N. Macedonia; Oscar Kokoschka Prize, Vienna 2002, Austria; the Chevalier des Arts et des Lettres, Paris, in 1995, and many more…

Art Thessaloniki, Greece
International Exhibition
TIF HelExpo-Center
03. – 06.11.2022


Artforum Culture Foundation is cultural partner of Art Thessaloniki.

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