There is a boom of the Russian art exhibitions in London lately and this phenomenon is poured out in the name of loan between the two countries, Russia and Britain. Russian artefacts are imported to Britain and Greek artefacts are exported to Russia! People in decision-making positions argue that art is a powerful tool of diplomacy and certainly this is what the Director of the British Museum, Neil MacGregor argued when he lent one of the Greek sculpture of Parthenon – the headless statue of a Greek god Ilissos to the State Hermitage Museum in St. Petersburg in order to honour its opening. At least the Russians lend their own and veritable Russian artefacts, without treats and tricks and changing the meanings of what belongs to whom.
Anyway this is not the subject of this post but the exhibition which is taking place at the Gallery Saatchi in London with title “The legacy of WWII in Russian Art” and marks the 70th anniversary of the end of the world war II and it’s an attempt to allow viewers to get a perception of Soviet art as well as stimulate a dialogue between the Russian and British experience of war.
An exhibition well put which gives a short perception what was happening in the art spectrum during the Soviet period. The prominent art style during that period is the socialistic realism part of realistic art which allegedly its purpose was furtherance of the goals of socialism and communism. Some others believe that artistic life of that period was not suppressed by the ideology and the proof is the great number of landscapes, portraits and genre paintings which pursued technical purposes and thus were free from any ideology.
The viewers of this particular exhibition can see that both cases can be true.
Stalin approving a USSR model of the pavillion, Paris 1937.
Art can be a tool of diplomacy and smooth out in some ways the differences between Russia and Britain and generally the west. But Russians – as Andrei Nekrasov thinks as well as this was my perception of the people in Kazakhstan- feel their national identity most strongly when they come under pressure from the outside (see Crimea, sanctions etc). “The new Russian ideology presents European values as part of a hypocritical propaganda the west uses to rationalise its pursuits of geopolitical and economic interests. Westerners should not compromise on their values. But they should also be aware that neither economic sanctions nor military help for Ukraine are the right antidote to Russia’s new ideology. Instead they are potential trigger that could turn a suspicious Russia into an outright enemy” says Andrey Nekrasov, film and television director.
Meanwhile we shall see how Alexis Tsipras’ diplomatic skills will work with Putin on 9 April. He will be the first European leader to travel to Moscow since the assassination of Boris Nemtsov. Therefore he can play a double role as European leader and supporter of the people who feel crushed-creating a bridge between Europeans and Russians – something like that will help to elevate his position among the European leaders. So far, he has proved himself as a good communicator and now it’s an opportunity to prove himself as a proud member of the European Union!