At the exhibition participate works from the collection of Sepherot Foundation (Liechtenstein)
Sprengel Museum Hannover presents A Return to Painting. Paintings by Ilya Kabakov, 1961-2011, on view through 29. April 2012. The exhibition shows approximately 60 paintings and three models of installations/monuments.
Painting has always been part of Ilya Kabakov’s oeuvre since the very beginning; he already began to paint while he was still in the Soviet Union, earning his «bread and butter» as a draughtsman and illustrator.
Even in his countless installations of the past several decades, which he realized together with his wife Emilia, painting has played a central role time and again. It afforded Ilya Kabakov the possibility of camouflage, of playing with different personalities and fictitious artists’ names, of expanding the narrative space of his works. Since the year 2000 or thereabout, Ilya Kabakov has largely turned his back on the installation as an art form and is now forging ahead with a very personal brand of painting in which he undertakes a revision of what he has lived through and accomplished, of images of the past, of the world of Soviet Socialism. The results are such multi-piece sequences as «Under the Snow»or «Flying», works in which the vanishing of these real worlds now finds its reflection. The flying, floating, fleeing images in the white picture spaces of the series «Flying» not only denote the disappearance of these worlds but also allude to the diametrically opposed traditions of 20th century painting: the representational at the one extreme, the abstract and the constructive at the other.
I. Kabakov. I. Spivak.
By the elevator. 1995. 2003
Of a particularly personal character, and of unusual directness, are several groups of works produced by Kabakov more recently. In «Black Paintings», the artist creates a montaged, multi-focused picture space in which personal experiences of more recent times – such as his stay in Japan on the occasion of the presentation of the Praemium Imperiale award – find expression in imagined, large-scale scenes. The dark colouration of this group of paintings contrasts strongly with the open presentation of family photographs from the group entitled «They are looking». Here Kabakov imagines – with only a few family photographs to go on – a confrontation of painter and viewer alike with the real and fictitious figures of the artist’s personal past. The aunts and uncles, the mother and her child Ilya Kabakov look at us, the viewers, and evoke from the past a lost life spent in a Jewish family in the Soviet Union of the Stalin era.