Opening on Saturday, October 26, 2013, in the presence of the artists
Closing Party on Thursday, November 14, 6:30pm - 9pm
For the first time in Asia the film Allegoria Sacra and a series of
photography will be exhibited in Hong Kong. AES+F are currently
exhibiting this series of work at the Venice Pavilion,
within the 55th Venice Biennale.
AES+F F (Tatiana Arzamasova, Lev Evzovich, Evgeny Svyatsky and Vladimir Fridkes) has been exploring the
possibilities of combining modern technology, Hollywood cinema, fashion photography, advertising, mass
media, popular culture and youth obsession with the classical aesthetic of old masters’ paintings since the
forming of the group in 1987, visualising and presenting a world for the viewers that is rather familiar yet
mysterious and alienated. Their digital collage of real life photographs and animated landscape/objects blurs
and defies the line between reality and fantasy, history and time, constructing a futuristic mythological
metaphor for the present through their glamorous, seductive yet alarming, artificially hyper-realistic imageries.
AES was first formed in 1987, and in 1995 it became AES+F; the artists currently live and work in Moscow.
The State Russian Museum in St. Petersburg held the first ever mid-career retrospective for the group
from May to July 2007. In recent years, they have also been exhibited extensively worldwide, including The
Cobra Museum of Modern Art in the Netherlands, Moscow Museum of Modern Art, Casino Luxembourg -
Forum d'art contemporain, the 4th Gwangju Biennale in South Korea, Museum of Contemporary Art in Sydney,
Museum of Modern Art in Stockholm and they already participated in the 53rd and 52nd Venice Biennale where
they co-represented Russia at the national pavilion.
About Allegoria Sacra
Giovanni Bellini’s Allegoria Sacra (Sacred Allegory) hangs in the Uffizi in Florence. The subject of this painting
is a mystery to art historians. The earliest figures of Christian and ancient mythology are gathered together
on a balustrade by a sea or a wide river, surrounded by hills on which can be seen, in the distance, village
huts and a palazzo. St. Sebastian, the Madonna, a centaur, small children playing by a tree in the centre,
a Saracen-Muslim, a man somewhat like the Apostle Paul with a sword in his hand, in the background a
peasant with a mule, two beautiful ladies one of whom is St. Catherine, a naked old man reminiscent of Job
- this is a far from a complete list of the heroes who Bellini brought together in this picture. AES+F have
always been intrigued by this painting. When they started to think of a third project after Last Riot and
The Feast of Trimalchio, shown at the Venice Biennale in 2007 and 2009 respectively, the artists decided
that a series entitled Allegoria Sacra would form the final part of a trilogy about the modern world (Hell,
Heaven, Purgatory). They see Bellini’s heroes in those passengers who meet accidentally while awaiting their
flights at international airports.
The airport is Purgatory. The bringing together of the incompatible (in an airport, according to AES+F) raises
the question of the values of our civilisation. The crowd of Muslim migrants and the skinhead with a baseball bat,
the disconnected ‘western’ passengers and the almost military unity of the Asian travellers, the adopted children
of prosperous gay couples and the poor Muslim children with their families - Allegoria Sacra does not discuss
recipes for happiness in different cultures, it points to the impossibility of an answer to that question.
This vision of the passengers is interwoven with a new mythological reality, where a centaur appears at the
center of a romantic battle in the desert, a superliner-dragon lands on a snowy runway, cannibals and ladies
dance in the jungle and angel-stewardesses, inspired by Kubrick’s 2001: A Space Odyssey, help an elderly Job
turn in to a mutant-baby. The metaphor of contemporary civilisation, with its relative values, becomes visible as
a result of the surrealistic mix of images of new and ancient religions and stereotypes from the mass media,
comics and fantasy. The dreams of one passenger flow in to those of another and a river completes the scene,
carrying planes, mythological monsters and space stations to the horizon...