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“Painting in Excess: Kyiv’s Art Revival, 1985-1993” will open at the Coral Gables Museum (USA)


Main image: Georgii Senchenko, Sacred Landscape of Pieter Breugel, 1988, oil on canvas.

The exhibition, which will take place from May 19 to October 22, presents paintings by Kyiv artists of the period of perestroika and the collapse of the USSR. All the funds received will be donated by the organizers to help Ukraine through Razom for Ukraine. The Ukrainian Institute is one of the project partners.

The exhibition “Painting in Excess: Kyiv’s Art Revival, 1985–1993” explores the inventive new art styles by Ukrainian artists responding to a trying transitional period of perestroika (restructuring) during the collapse of the Soviet Union.

Painting in Excess: Kyiv’s Art Revival, 1985–1993

In December 2021, this exhibition was presented at the Zimmerli Art Museum, Rutgers University. Last year, for this exhibition, Rutgers University Press, together with the Ukrainian Institute, prepared a catalog with analytical texts on Kyiv art from 1985 to 1993.

Arsen Savadov and Georgii Senchenko, Gardens Old and New, 1986-1987, oil on canvas. Norton and Nancy Dodge Collection of Nonconformist Art from the Soviet Union

The years following the inception of perestroika policies and encompassing the collapse of the Soviet Union remarkably transformed Kyiv’s art scene, successfully launching Ukrainian contemporary art as a truly global phenomenon. The calm waters of the culturally provincial capital of the Ukrainian Soviet Republic became radically stirred with new and daring art made publicly visible for the first time since the avant-garde period. This explosion of styles, rediscovered histories, and newly found freedoms blossoming against the background of the collapsing Soviet empire, the Chernobyl nuclear disaster of 1986, and increasing economic scarcity created an effect of baroque excess. As if in a crooked mirror, the overabundance in art styles and the limitless production of new meanings reflected the emptiness of the hollowed-out Communist ideology and late socialist realist art. This exhibition traces and documents the diverse artistic manifestations of these transitional and exhilarating years in Kyiv while providing some historical artworks for context.

All proceeds from the exhibition will go to relief efforts in Ukraine via Razom for Ukraine

Tiberiy Silvashi, Midnight, 1981, oil on canvas. Norton and Nancy Dodge Collection of Nonconformist Art from the Soviet Union. 

Painting in Excess: Kyiv’s Art Revival, 1985-1993.

The project is organized by Olena Martynyuk, Ph.D., Rutgers University, Guest Research Curator, with assistance from Julia Tulovsky, PhD, Curator of Russian and Soviet Nonconformist Art at the Zimmerli Art Museum, and supported by the Avenir Foundation Endowment Fund and the Dodge Charitable Trust–Nancy Ruyle Dodge, Trustee, with additional support from the Abramovych Foundation and the Tymofieiev Foundation.