Ilya (b. 1933, Dnepropetrovsk, Soviet Union) and Emilia Kabakov (b. 1945, Dnepropetrovsk, Soviet Union) base their collaborative works on the intersection of quotidian and conceptual elements. Ilya previously worked as a children’s book illustrator, and was part of a group of Russian artists in Moscow working outside the Soviet system. Emilia was trained in Spanish literature and music, and worked in New York as an art dealer and curator beginning in the 1970s. Their background in Soviet society informs their work, and their work has been collaborative since they were married in 1992. The Kabakovs joined Pace Gallery in 2012.
New York—Pace Gallery is pleased to announce New Paintings, an exhibition featuring recent work by Ilya & Emilia Kabakov at 510 West 25th Street, on view from December 11, 2015 to January 23, 2016 with an opening reception for the public on Thursday, December 10 from 6 to 8 pm. The exhibition will debut two new bodies of work by Ilya and Emilia Kabakov that explore the complexities of time and the nature of reality.
Ilya and Emilia Kabakov are internationally recognized as Russia’s most celebrated artists. Their multidisciplinary practice—spanning drawing, painting and installation—extends beyond their experience with the Soviet social and cultural context of their past to engage universal themes including memory and illusion. The works presented in New Paintings trace the use of graphic techniques as methods for obscuring reality, highlighting the factors that shape and modify our perceptions of everyday life.
The new collaborative series The Two Times (2014–15) explores layered or dual realities, a prominent theme within the Kabakov’s work. Representations of a distant, classical past are spliced with images of fragmented memories from the Soviet era, conveying the collision of two time periods. The multi-layered interpretations emphasize human perceptions of time and the temporal nature of the present, which is constantly emerging from and turning into the past.
Similarly concerned with perception is the series Six Paintings about the Temporary Loss of Eye Sight (2015). In each of the six paintings, a dense layer of dots spreads across the surface of the canvas, creating an obstacle that prevents the viewer from wholly focusing on or grasping the details of the image behind it. The interplay between the representational imagery and the vibrating blanket of dots creates energetic compositions, engaging the viewer with an active visual experience and inviting them to question the face of reality. The series continues Ilya Kabakov’s characteristic approach to narrative imagery while revisiting and transforming his use of repetitive circular forms, which first appeared in his work in the 1960s. The Six Paintings series will be complemented by a selection of prints made from his Dots Pastilles drawings (1970–71), which present early iterations of the use of dots as a graphic technique.
In addition to recent paintings, the exhibition will also feature a 1997 edition of Mathematical Gorsky, the seventh album from Kabakov’s 10 Characters series made between 1970 and 1974. Thirty-seven individual drawings form a harmonious portfolio, following what Kabakov describes as “a flowing structure of our time: the past, the present and future—the pages turned over.” The interrelated album pages use the circular forms found in the Print With Dots works, illuminating Kabakov’s reoccurring use of the circular motif as a method of visual interference.
Ilya Kabakov (b. 1933, Dnepropetrovsk, Soviet Union) and Emilia Kabakov (b. 1945, Dnepropetrovsk, Soviet Union) have been working collaboratively since 1988. Informed by their Soviet background, their collaborative works explore a universal human condition through the intersection of quotidian and conceptual elements. Ilya Kabakov studied illustration and design at the Art School, Moscow (1945–51), and the VA Surikov Art Academy, Moscow (1951–1957), before working as a children’s book illustrator in the 1950s. In Moscow, he was part of a group of Russian conceptual artists working outside the official Soviet system. Emilia Kabakov studied at the Moscow Music School (1952–59) and Music College, Irkutsk, Dnepropetrovsk (1962–66), and studied literature and Spanish language at the University of Moscow (1969–1972). In 1975, Emilia moved to New York and began working as an art dealer and curator.
Solo exhibitions of the Kabakov’s work have been mounted at numerous museums including Multimedia Art Museum, Moscow (2013); The State Hermitage Museum, St. Petersburg (2005, 2005, 2010); Museum of Contemporary Art, Rome (2004); Chinati Foundation, Marfa (2002); Contemporary Art Center, Art Tower Mito, Japan (1999); Museo Nacional Centro de Arte Reina Sofía, Madrid (1998); Centre national d’art et de culture Georges Pompidou, Paris (1995); Stedelijk Museum, Amsterdam (1993); and Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden, Washington, D.C. (1990).
Ilya and Emilia Kabakov: The Dream City, an exhibition which features the artists’ largest installation to-date, is concurrently on view at the Power Station of Art in Shanghai.
In 2012, the Sprengel Museum in Hannover, Germany, organized the first retrospective of Ilya Kabakov’s work, which traveled to the Henie Onstad Art Centre in Høvikodden, Norway. The same year, The State Hermitage Museum hosted Utopia and Reality: El Lissitzky, Ilya and Emilia Kabakov. In 2014, The Kabakovs participated in Monumenta 2014 at the Grand Palais, Paris, with their large-scale project The Strange City. A retrospective was mounted in 2008 in Moscow at the State Pushkin Museum, Garage Museum of Contemporary Arts, and Contemporary Art Center Winzavod. Their work has been included in numerous group exhibitions, including the Whitney Biennial (1997) and Documenta IX (1992). In 1993, they represented Russia at the 45th Venice Biennale with their installation The Red Pavilion.
Numerous commissions and permanent installations of their work have been installed in France, Germany, Holland, Italy, Japan, and Korea. In 2013, the Kabakovs collaborated on the design for a subway station in Naples, Italy, as part of a publicly funded project by MetroNapoli. Ship of Tolerance, an international project to connect the youth of different continents and cultures through the language of art, has been presented in Siwa, Egypt; Venice, Italy; San Moritz, Switzerland; Sharjah, UAE; Miami, FL; Havana, Cuba; New York; and Moscow, Russia. In 2016, Ship of Tolerance will be installed in Zug, Switzerland and Margate, England, working with refugee populations and continuing its cross-cultural mission.
Their work is held in the permanent collections of institutions including Centre national d’art et de culture Georges Pompidou, Paris; The Museum of Modern Art, New York; Sprengel Museum, Hannover; The State Hermitage Museum, St. Petersburg; Stedelijk Museum, Amsterdam; Tate, London; The State Tretyakov Gallery, Moscow; and Van Abbemuseum, Eindhoven, Netherlands.
In 2014, Ilya and Emilia Kabakov received the Commandeurs award by l’Ordre des Arts et des Lettres, France. Other honors and distinctions include the Louise Blouin Foundation Award, New York (2011); the Japan Art Association Praemium Imperiale Laureate Award, Tokyo (2009); Order of Friendship, Moscow (2008); Oskar Kokoschka Preis, Vienna (2002); Chevaliers, l’Ordre des Arts et des Lettres (1995); and The Joseph Beuys Prize, Basel, Switzerland (1993).
The Kabakovs live and work in Long Island, New York. This is Pace’s second presentation of their work.
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Closing Soon: Visit Ilya & Emilia Kabakov: New Paintings, which closes next Saturday, January 23. The exhibition debuts two new bodies of work by Ilya and Emilia Kabakov that explore the complexities of time and the nature of reality.