Art naive and collective unconscious

Moscow’s Tsaritsino Museum has opened an exhibition of primitive art. However, behind the folkloric characters and mythological plots one can catch a glimpse of present-day life from a different perspective.

­Some 180 works by eight primitivist artists may seem deprived of artistic taste and insightfulness. However at a closer look they reveal reflections of historic events and personalities, traces of human drama and even satire and critics of the state.

These artists are mainly self-made with no specific education and lack of systematic knowledge of artistic concepts. That may seem a fair way to a failure, but on the other hand it gives way to pure unconscious self-expression.

For example Vladimir Zaznobin, whose wooden sculptures entered the display, is more an artist than a carpenter. The same can be said about gardener Vasily Romanenkov, whose pen and pencil drawings depict farmers and countrymen surrounded by sophisticated ornaments that carry a slight hint of Sanskrit symbols.

Still some works cannot be defined as pure primitivism. Among them Sergey Gorshkov’s conceptual installation About Tasty and Healthy Food, consisting of 30 examples of food – a roast piglet, boiled sausages, vegetables, and Soviet Champagne made of wood and covered in paint take us back to the Soviet 1950s.

These naive artists have already secured themselves a place on the international art scene. In 1984, all eight names presented at the display were included in the World Encyclopedia of Naive Art, published in London.

The display at Tsaritsino will be on through to September 11.

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