On 9 April Ivorypress Space will host in Madrid an exhibition of Ilya and Emilia Kabakov, the Russian-born and international artistic duo currently based in the United States. Under the title Vertical Paintings and Other Works, the show will encompass a wide selection of work that, through different techniques, makes references to art history and literature.
Their work is deeply rooted in the Soviet sociocultural context in which they lived during their youth; however, their pieces approach themes that are universally meaningful, such as utopia, fantasies, and human fears and dreams. In the exhibition, which will be open until 18 May, visitors to the gallery will find works produced from the late nineties to the present day.
One of the key pieces of the show is How Can One Change Oneself, one of the projects from the installation The Palace of Projects. Two white wings to hang on one’s back and stop to think for a few minutes every two hours during our daily life are, according to the creative conception of this artistic duo, the secret to being kinder, becoming better people and increasing our creativity. The exhibition also includes a selection of graphic work, as well as various recent canvases from the series Quotation Paintings and the piece The Black Corner Missed by Malevich (2006), which is an ironic reference to the work of the great Russian Suprematist painter. According to the Kabakov, among all his geometrical paintings, Malevich ‘never painted a black corner’, an omission which they correct through this piece. Previously, the work of the Kabakov was on show in Spain in the Palacio de Cristal in the Retiro park, Madrid (1998-1999), and in the group show L’internationale, celebrated in 2011 at the Museu d’Art Contemporani de Barcelona (MACBA). Also, one of their large sculptures, Pianist and Muse, is part of the urban landscape of Alcobendas, in Madrid. They were also responsible for designing the dome for the set of the opera Saint François D’Assise, by Oliver Messiaen, presented at the Teatro Real in Madrid in 2011.
Ilya Kabakov (born in 1933) studied at the VA Surikov Art Academy in Moscow and began his career as a children’s book illustrator during the fifties. He was the main figure of a group of conceptual artists in Moscow who worked outside the official Soviet art system. His first solo exhibition took place in 1985 and he moved to the West two years later. In 1988 he began to work with Emilia Lekach Kanevsky (born in 1945)—who would later become his wife—, who also has a solid training in music, as well as in Spanish Language and Literature. Emilia first migrated to Israel in 1973 and then moved to New York, where she worked as curator and art adviser until she met Ilya Kabakov. Since then, they have developed a collaborative body of work that has made them two of the most universally recognised Russian artists.