55.jpg 29.03.2021 - 29.05.2021

Peter Belyi Concrete Revelation

From Melancholia to Ecstasy (and back again)

Those not tainted by art history or religion may be reminded of building sites when they see Peter Belyi’s piles of cement on the wall. The metal bars slanting through them may be all too familiar. How many of our brutal architectural creations appear unfinished. The act of creation can never fully escape that destruction that precedes it and follows it. The act of decay invariably prevails.

Of course, the artist and I are scarred by art history, the weight of all the work that artists have made before, all the thoughts, feelings and dreams they had. So much so that the delayed exhibition Melancholia (now part of Present Continuous) he is showing currently at the Garage, is guided by a map made from Durer’s famous engraving of Melancholia, 1514. It takes one through the ruins of past political icons, Lenin and others in the rubble. Durer’s Apocalypse series also supplied the inspiration for his cement works, but if you follow the melancholic map across Gorky Park to the Iragui Gallery, to look at the frieze of cement clouds on their walls, my first thought is of Bernini not Durer. Certainly the way the metallic lines pierce through the cloud may echo that of Durer, and indeed many earlier Renaissance artists such as Giotto and Gentile da Fabriano, but the ambiguity of Belyi’s heavy but fluffy concrete clouds has more connections with Bernini’s St Teresa in Ecstasy, 1547-52.

‘How do you express God, something which does not exist?’ Belyi asked me rhetorically. For a large amount of artists working for the near monopoly patron for centuries, the Church, this was a critical problem. It would be anachronistic to doubt Bernini’s faith, though certainly he was wild in his youth, but however much he believed in his mid-sixteenth century God, he still had a similar problem to Belyi when it comes to showing something that is transparently not there. There is a parallel history in the way we have depicted the rays of the sun to how we have attempted to create an image for our gods, their angels and their spirits. These merge, or diverge however you wish to see it, in Bernini’s St Teresa and Belyi’s concrete clouds.

From the distance of the pews in the nave of Rome’s Santa Maria della Vittoria, on a sunny day, it is easier to believe in God, than on a cloudy day when one goes and pokes ones nose up Bernini’s niche. The artist has funneled the sun to support his own relatively crude model of its rays. It is all tacked together. From where the believers sit and pray it looks divine. It is helped by one of the best sculptural manifestions of La Petite Mort ever made. Love and religion feed off a very similar, if not the very same, human desire to believe. But if one makes the mistake of analysing the rods holding both Bernini’s and Belyi’s structures together, it as Belyi says ‘easier to believe in concrete than in God.’

Alistair Hicks


Alistair Hicks is the author of the Global Art Compass. He is the curator of Doublethink: Doublevision, an exhibition at the Pera Museum in Istanbul in 2017 that shows artists from around the world reassessing the way we think. Much of his work is aimed at trying to cut through the art politics and artspeak to show how rich and diverse our times are.

For twenty years he was Senior Curator at Deutsche Bank. While at Deutsche Bank his main job was selecting and presenting art to purchase committees. He created the Man Booker Library while he was art advisor to Man Group. Currently he is on the art advisory board of Cliveden Advisory, the Advisory Committee of Unseen Art Fair (Amsterdam) , on the Global Art Advisory Committee of Hana Bank Global HR Center Art Collection and is a contributor and advisor to Russian Art Focus.


12.11.2020 - 13.01.2021

Yuri Albert, Danini, Oleg Frolov, Ian Ginsburg, Tobias Kaspar, Irina Petrakova, Alexey Ryumin, Denis Stroev, Natasha Tarr, Victor Zhdanov. Curator Oleg Frolov Goodwin

Artworks presented at the “Goodwin”* group exhibition show persons. These images are perceived by the viewer as "you-concepts" and urge the viewer to come up with "I-concepts" in response. The artists focus on difficulties of communication and initiate situations of looking at the image of the other, which can cause sensations of unreality, deficiency or excess. Heightened attention to persons is often explained as culturally and historically conditioned and inevitable in the discussions about the present (due to social networks, tracking, service industries’ profiling of customers). At the exhibition, obsession with persons is interpreted as always individually chosen and situational search for oneself in one’s views on others. The curator believes that the works shown are ambivalent: they dwell in detail on the appearances - unrealistic imaginations of oneself and others, still they suggest a way out of the mist of imaginations to direct communication.


Exhibited artists are Yuri Albert, Danini, Oleg Frolov, Ian Ginsburg, Tobias Kaspar, Irina Petrakova, Alexey Ryumin, Denis Stroev, Natasha Tarr, Victor Zhdanov.

Curated by Oleg Frolov.

Special thank you to Ekaterina Degot and Denis Stroev who kindly lent the works of Yuri Albert and Irina Petrakova for this exhibition.

*Goodwin is the name of the Wizard of Oz in the Russian re-narration of L. Frank Baum’s children’s novel.

07.09.2020 - 06.11.2020

Olga Bozhko Every Cook

Just ten years ago, the national identity seemed to have become obsolete. It was awfully
inappropriate to say “I am French” or “I am Russian”. The enthusiasm related to the former glory of
one or other nation vanished when it turned out that all that heritage is absolutely worthless in the
new world, where people are constantly transforming throughout their lives. However, by the end of
the 2010s, a new wave of national identity washed over the world. With no irony or no critical
distance. The previously oppressed nations have risen and inspired at once those who were
anything but expected at this festival of national renascence – the power nations that made the
world shake. We started hearing people say “I am Chinese” and “I am American”. Now it has
become inappropriate – I would say, even impossible – not to identify oneself in any way in the
table of ethnic groups, cultures and state entities. But seriously, we did not return to the 19 th
century. Then why all these national antics? Is it a sort of a global cosplay? Maybe, after all, this
second awakening of nations has some kind of historical relevance, practical worth, or, at worst,
applicability in the national economy? Scientists are arguing, journalists are disputing, emotions are
running high on social networks. They cannot find a clear-cut answer.

And here the pot holder comes to the rescue. It is a simple yet perfectly symbolic object. It protects
hands from the fire when they are engaged in the ancient art of cooking. That is exactly what is
expected from the perfect nation state – to take on the function of protection while citizens are
peacefully doing their business. Peace and quiet. Decorated with the colors of the national flag, as
in Olga Bozhkos project, the pot holder allows you not only to define your identity but also to get
quite definite benefits from it, here and now – day after day. Even with football fan scarves, created
to clearly distinguish no less imaginary identities, this does not work – they are certainly scarves,
yet they are rarely used to keep warm. But Bozhkos pot holder demonstrates a strong and
harmonious union of the symbolic and the practical. You can even take it with you to a
manifestation. Lets imagine: hundreds, thousands of people marching and smiling, waving their
pot holders with, for example, a Chinese flag. It looks like reality. Now imagine the same with
Czech, Danish, Moroccan flags... Unexpected, but quite realistic.

And since, according to the recent events, the national question 1 is here to stay, shall we focus it on
similar areas? At least, it will be useful. In the art of cooking, despite any globalization, the ethnic
trace is strong. We understand well when people talk about Italian, Indian, Japanese cuisine. So let
the kitchen space itself be a national reserve! Just imagine visiting your friends and seeing the potholder with a Georgian flag hanging next to the stove – you can get straight away that within these
four walls there is a culinary consulate of khinkali, phali and khachapuri. Thats good. You can get
a stamp in your passport at the entrance. Meanwhile, the neighbors have a German pot holder and
a queue for sausages in their kitchen. And they pour beer – everything is clear. We just have to
choose which gastronomic tour to go on. Stereotypes in this case even seem to be adorable. And
may no national question with conflicts and claims of the past, no insults to the feelings of ethnic
groups, and definitely no “great power chauvinism”, go beyond the walls of the kitchen!
But I wish it was only about the new nationalism – as the artist shows, everything is much more
serious. Recognizable symbols of the Soviet project are being reconstructed for the tenth time. The
emerging post-Soviet rituals – from official St. George ribbons to protest emblems – are on air.
Every day we are invited to join one or other party which suggests, in particular, the adoption of a
certain set of symbols. A filter (attitude) for a profile picture, a sticker (worldview) on a laptop, a T-
shirt with a slogan (accusation), a graffiti (challenge) on the way home – all this is so ubiquitous
that no flags can compete with this amount of political declarations. You cannot hide, you cannot
run away. The key question is how to live with it. Well, the same way Rimbaud answered and the
same way Olga Bozhko repeats in her project: day after day.

Sergey Guskov

01.07.2020 - 31.08.2020

Georgy Litichevsky L'Intelligence des fleurs

Iragui gallery is delighted to show the project of Georgy Litichevsky in Moscow. It was created for participation in Art Brussels art fair in 2019.

Georgy Litichevsky’s project is inspired by the text of Maurice Maeterlinck, who is only remembered today by cultural historians, despite having been incredibly popular at the beginning of the last century.
In the project, Maeterlinck encounters Anton Chekhov, the Russian writer and dramatist, who, despite all the differences in their creative approaches and outlooks, was a very active promoter of the work of his Belgian colleague in Russia, particularly on the Russian stage. A diffusion of the texts of Chekhov and Maeterlinck takes place. Depicted in the blue tones of Gzhel porcelain, the comic strip, rendered on fabric, turns The Seagull (from the play of the same name by Chekhov) and The Blue Bird into a single being, a Blue Phoenix, as it were, that enters into a discussion-dialogue with intelligent flowers. Over the course of this discussion-dialogue, issues posed by the two writers are revitalized – from the crossroads that lies ahead of civilization in the world to evolution and ecology, their plays and essays are interpreted as tracts on aesthetics and artistic manifestos that resonate with the issues of contemporary art.
The comic is complimented with vertical works on fabric bearing quotations from Maetherlinck’s tracts, depictions of flowers and his portrait.

Georgy Litichevsky

14.02.2020 - 28.06.2020

Nikita Alexeev | Selfies: Look at me, what do you see?

From a conversation with Sota Maeda, a member of staff of the Russian History and Culture Department of Chiba University:

S.M. – I know that you don’t use modern gadgets, you don’t have a smartphone, and, allegedly, you can’t even write a text message. Where, then, does this interest in the selfie, one of the key phenomena of modern mass culture, come from?

N.A. – It’s true, I’m a complete cretin when it comes to IT. Writing a text message, for me, is torture. It’s far easier to make a telephone call or write a letter. I use a computer for the simplest of tasks – as a typing machine or to search for information. I don’t have a smartphone and I can’t imagine what I might need it for. I have a button phone with as few functions as possible. Luckily, you can still find those in the shops. But I have – perhaps specifically because of my IT-stupidity – a heightened conceptual interest in all these communicational-digital things. And you are right – selfies are one of the most astonishing and absurd phenomena in this digital-communicational community. Every year, around the world, several thousand people die trying to take standout selfies. Good Lord, it’s fantastical, idiotic egocentrism, it’s some kind of off-the-charts selfishness! Who cares about your mug? “I’m in bed”, “I’m having breakfast”, “I’m at work”, “I’m at the beach”, “I’m at the cemetery”, “I’m in heaven”, “I’m in hell.” … If you’re that interested in your physiognomy, then take a look in the mirror. Revolting? Spit on the mirror. You really like it? Draw a self-portrait on the mirror. It’s important, of course, that it be a good self-portrait. Like the self-portraits of Leonardo, Goya, Van Gogh with his ear cut off, or even Giovanni Bacci, nicknamed Sodoma, at the least.

- Perhaps it’s because I’m Japanese, but when I look at your drawings, a strange analogy comes to mind. I think that there’s a paradoxical kinship with ukiyo-e, the graphic art of the Edo era. With the portraits of the refined geishas, theater actors, sumo wrestlers and other personages who are so astonishing in our modern world. What do you think about that?

- As an unworthy person, I feel shame at such a comparison. Who am I to be compared with the ukiyo-e masters, the pictures of the floating world? I believe that that’s how the term is translated. Although it would be interesting, of course, to look at selfies taken by those “beauties of our time” if they’d had smartphones. In short, I don’t think that these exceptionally refined, educated and, in every sense, experienced ladies would have taken part in such egocentric nonsense. So thank you to the great Utamaro for having drawn them. But who am I? To the extent allowed by my abilities, I do handmade selfies of myself, or reconstruct the idiocy of today’s surrounding world.

25.01.2020 - 11.02.2020

Maxim Ilyukhin, Ivan Kurbakov | 9 paintings Vaya Adelante

This new year Iragui gallery pursues its program of cooperation and support for partner galleries and artists associations that was initiated three years ago by joint projects with galleries in London and Milan. We are very pleased to have Art Business Consulting association and particularly its founder Maxim Ilyukhin with us at the new exhibition.

In December 2019, the Dutch label Shimmering Moods Records released the album “Vaya Adelante” by Ivan Kurbakov’s music project mpala garoo, with Maxim Ilyukhin making the album cover and performing on the record as a musician. Maxim Ilyukhin and Ivan Kurbakov – the men behind the exhibition – are presenting an extended version of this project, where the music album is complemented by a series of paintings, ceramics and video installations. The exhibition will be held at the Iragui gallery from January 25 to February 11, 2020 and will also include several musical events, poetry readings and public talk on the topic of open and secret art communities.

In “9 paintings VAYA ADELANTE,” the artists work with a symbolic representation of human nature. The Chinese character “Ren” looks like two lines converging at the top and diverging towards the bottom, and mostly resembles a person in motion, a walking person. It can also be interpreted as the intersection of two trajectories: a meeting, an event, a special point. It is this character, changed several times, that is repeated on the CD-cover. The person’s ability to quickly change their identities and move between virtual worlds is responded either with refrain or with its opposite in these paintings, where a person is just a creature in perpetual movement.

The “real” movement experience is represented by video installations shot in Portugal and California as in places that refer to the concepts of “old” and “new” worlds. The Portugal video is filled with images from alchemical gardens, statues, castles and fountains; whilst the California video shows driving along the night highway from the Fossil Falls desert to the city of Los Angeles. The opposition of the natural / historical in the musical dimension gets a new pair – analog / digital.


About the artists


Maxim Ilyukhin

Russian artist, musician and performer.

He is best known for his project of the non-profit gallery at ART Strelka cultural center (Moscow, Russia) from 2004 to 2009, and then at ARTPLAY design center from 2011 to 2013. The ABC Gallery (website: http://abc-group.ru) has become a logical continuation of the activity by the art group of the same name (Maxim Ilyukhin, Natalya Struchkova and Mikhail Kosolapov) which was announced in 2001 as an “artists corporation”, with an ordinary office being labeled as an exhibition technique and texture. Thus, the artists defiantly renounced the elitist and messianistic attitude to the viewer, the “little man”, the office clerk.

Maxim Ilyukhin is a participant of exhibitions at the State Tretyakov Gallery, the Hermitage, the Moscow Museum of Modern Art (MMоMA) and the Multimedia Art Museum (MAMM). His performances were shown at Winzavod center for contemporary art, Fabrika center for creative industries, ART Strelka, the Solyanka gallery, the Ground gallery, the Peresvetov Lane gallery, the Brut Theater (Vienna, Austria).

Ilyukhin currently teaches at the British Higher School of Art & Design (Moscow, Russia).


Ivan Kurbakov

Poet, film director, audio and video artist.

He studied at the Maxim Gorky Literature Institute (2006-2011), graduated from the film direction department of the Moscow School of New Cinema (2013-2016). Participant of improvisation courses by Vladimir Gorlinsky at the Moscow Conservatory (2016-2017). Curator of the “Celebration of the On-going” project, an ensemble of musicians-improvisers working with poetic texts in the musical space.

His concerts and performances took place at the Fabula Gallery (“Mirrored Music”, '108' Exhibition, 2019), at the Solyanka Gallery (“Compositional Map to the Singing Path”, 2019), at the Electrotheatre, at the Gallery of Experimental Sound (GES, Saint-Petersburg, 2017-2018), at the New Space of the Theater of Nations (“Things and Directions” film installation, 2017), at the Madame Claude club (Berlin, 2010).

Kurbakov's poems and essays were published in [Translit] magazine.
Author of the poetry book “Let him sing” (Argo-Risk Publ. house, 2019)

Filmography: Pleroma, 2015 (54 min, fiction film), Things and Directions, 2017 (25 min, film installation), A Person Grows up Sleeping, 2018 (28 min, fiction film)