55.jpg 29.03.2021 - 29.05.2021

Peter Belyi Concrete Revelation

From Melancholia to Ecstasy (and back again)

Those not tainted by art history or religion may be reminded of building sites when they see Peter Belyi’s piles of cement on the wall. The metal bars slanting through them may be all too familiar. How many of our brutal architectural creations appear unfinished. The act of creation can never fully escape that destruction that precedes it and follows it. The act of decay invariably prevails.

Of course, the artist and I are scarred by art history, the weight of all the work that artists have made before, all the thoughts, feelings and dreams they had. So much so that the delayed exhibition Melancholia (now part of Present Continuous) he is showing currently at the Garage, is guided by a map made from Durer’s famous engraving of Melancholia, 1514. It takes one through the ruins of past political icons, Lenin and others in the rubble. Durer’s Apocalypse series also supplied the inspiration for his cement works, but if you follow the melancholic map across Gorky Park to the Iragui Gallery, to look at the frieze of cement clouds on their walls, my first thought is of Bernini not Durer. Certainly the way the metallic lines pierce through the cloud may echo that of Durer, and indeed many earlier Renaissance artists such as Giotto and Gentile da Fabriano, but the ambiguity of Belyi’s heavy but fluffy concrete clouds has more connections with Bernini’s St Teresa in Ecstasy, 1547-52.

‘How do you express God, something which does not exist?’ Belyi asked me rhetorically. For a large amount of artists working for the near monopoly patron for centuries, the Church, this was a critical problem. It would be anachronistic to doubt Bernini’s faith, though certainly he was wild in his youth, but however much he believed in his mid-sixteenth century God, he still had a similar problem to Belyi when it comes to showing something that is transparently not there. There is a parallel history in the way we have depicted the rays of the sun to how we have attempted to create an image for our gods, their angels and their spirits. These merge, or diverge however you wish to see it, in Bernini’s St Teresa and Belyi’s concrete clouds.

From the distance of the pews in the nave of Rome’s Santa Maria della Vittoria, on a sunny day, it is easier to believe in God, than on a cloudy day when one goes and pokes ones nose up Bernini’s niche. The artist has funneled the sun to support his own relatively crude model of its rays. It is all tacked together. From where the believers sit and pray it looks divine. It is helped by one of the best sculptural manifestions of La Petite Mort ever made. Love and religion feed off a very similar, if not the very same, human desire to believe. But if one makes the mistake of analysing the rods holding both Bernini’s and Belyi’s structures together, it as Belyi says ‘easier to believe in concrete than in God.’

Alistair Hicks


Alistair Hicks is the author of the Global Art Compass. He is the curator of Doublethink: Doublevision, an exhibition at the Pera Museum in Istanbul in 2017 that shows artists from around the world reassessing the way we think. Much of his work is aimed at trying to cut through the art politics and artspeak to show how rich and diverse our times are.

For twenty years he was Senior Curator at Deutsche Bank. While at Deutsche Bank his main job was selecting and presenting art to purchase committees. He created the Man Booker Library while he was art advisor to Man Group. Currently he is on the art advisory board of Cliveden Advisory, the Advisory Committee of Unseen Art Fair (Amsterdam) , on the Global Art Advisory Committee of Hana Bank Global HR Center Art Collection and is a contributor and advisor to Russian Art Focus.


02.09.2019 - 02.11.2019

Natalia Zourabova Red Heat

"We have been friends with the Iragui Gallery for about ten years and I am very pleased to present my paintings there.

I brought landscapes, portraits and interiors from my studio in Israel. All of them have been recently painted with oil, mainly from life (or from sketches from life), which is why the special Middle Eastern light and sharp chiaroscuro are so important in them. Artists will understand me: the absence of half-shades and half-tones requires a special approach.

The themes of my paintings are simple: I usually paint or draw what the eye catches from everyday life, what will surprise and shock me when images “wander” in my head and finally I find myself at the canvas trying to figure out the reality. Such aesthetic challenges are my constant source of inspiration. “Jaffa. Construction” is a painting from the series that I have been painting on the balcony of my apartment for several years. In this series, one can see how a gradually growing new house hides the roofs of the old Arab city.

Or take these two paintings from the “Texas, America” series. One of them portrays a homeless old man on a blue background. I saw him two years ago sitting almost unconscious on Sixth Avenue in Austin. And the other painting shows a typical breakfast of two friends in one of the roadside motels in Texas.

But let me make a small digression and tell you who I am and what is behind this exhibition.

I was born in Moscow in 1975. From 1986 till 1993, I studied painting and drawing at the Moscow Academic Art Lyceum of the Russian Academy of Arts (MAHL RAKh). I graduated from the Institute of Contemporary Art (ICA) in 1999 and from the Russian Institute of Theatre Arts (GITIS) in 2000, and then left first for Germany where I studied at the Berlin University of the Arts, and later for Israel. There I resumed painting.

In 2011, in Tel Aviv, I and five other artists born in the former USSR (Zoya Cherkasskaya, Olga Kundina, Anna Lukashevskaya, Asya Lukin) founded the New Barbizon group. The name of the group refers to the Barbizon School of Painting which was established in France in the 19th century. The artists of the Barbizon School made landscape painting an independent subject for pictures. While the French Barbizon gathered to paint from life in the Fontainebleau forest, the New Barbizon group took to the streets of the modern city. Thus, the social aspect came forward in our paintings. Over the years, the group has got followers and admirers in Israel and other countries. I hope that the Russian audience will soon get to know the works of the New Barbizon."

Natalia Zourabova

07.06.2019 - 15.07.2019

Alexey Tregubov Does the space change when it is being watched?

The third exhibition of Alexey Tregubov at the gallery turns into a laboratory room where the experiment that poses a number of questions for the audience takes place. Where does the object end and begin? What is beyond its limit? How does the object move? What is time? Does the space change when it is being watched?

Alexey Tregubov considers experiments with the reverse perspective of space as the starting point of his artistic life – he started them when he was still at the Moscow Art School in Memory of Year 1905. Continuing his professional education at the Surikov Moscow State Academic Art Institute, he brings together the experience of non-linear understanding of space and the study of the influence of image on architecture. Working in the theater, the artist proceeds to the experimental study of stage space – the one that emerges as the result of relationship between the stage and the audience. Simultaneously, he opens a gallery of contemporary art “Room” in the theater where he states the main idea of his work: “space as the key to understanding the artist”. The artist subsequently develops this idea in his museum projects as an architect and curator. The solo exhibition at Galerie Iragui is a concentration of the experience of various spatial sensations. The author uses a circle – like an eye pupil, a slot in space and in time – as a basis for his artistic method. By mixing different phases of movement in the same plane through circle patterns, using round mirrors through which a reflection of the gallery's dimensions can be seen, the artist offers to the viewer a special key to understanding the exhibition space.The first experiments with motion photo-fixation conducted by Eadweard Muybridge in the 1880s–90s became an impetus for this work. They became the last forerunner of real cinematography. The artist's desire to stop time, to go back to images created over a hundred years ago and to re-interpret them, pushes him to re-interpret the classical art technique of “oil on canvas”. A mirror surface in the spatial experiment as a tool for reflecting something else – something unknown and painfully familiar at the same time – refers us to the photo-fixation of space and objects.

11.04.2019 - 01.06.2019

Linda Carrara Madonna delle rocce

The title of Linda Carrara's project, "Madonna of the rocks", refers to the works of Leonardo da Vinci, which become a starting point for studying morphology of the landscape of Adda river. The artist envelops the rocky shores with a frottage hatching that reveals the shape and softens its contours, giving the impression of a Renaissance "sfumato". In the works of Linda historical and artistic memory of native landscapes, which were once captured by Leonardo, becomes visible and tangible, and therefore even more ambiguous. The artistic practice of Linda, which fluctuates on the line between painting and sculpture, natural and synthetic, is built around this concept. 

Linda Carrara was born in Bergamo. She graduated from the Brera Fine Arts Academy in Milan, then continued her studies at the Royal Academy of Fine Arts (KASK) in Gent. Linda has also received the Terna Award for the work of Outer Space (2015), which explores light as a means of painting. The artist lives and works in Brussels and Milan.

14.02.2019 - 06.04.2019

Xenia Dranysh | Pink Punk Opera

A girl’s room is a separate world of self-expression where, having forgotten about four walls and being only in the company of your own reflection in a wall mirror, pocket mirror or on the iPhone screen with a webcam turned on, you can play most of your leading roles. Just use your own body and change your image by dressing up as the main tool for excitement and self-inspiration!

Here I am – a lead female dramatic character who experiences a great sadness, and here I am – a passionate lady who is longing to finally see her boyfriend, here I am – a queen, here I am – a funny foolish girl, here I am – a decisive person who is gonna accomplish the impossible, and here I am – miserable, looking in the mirror, trying to get a clue or comprehend where a mistake was made, here I am beautiful, with the eyes that can tell everything and lead the crowd. We explore ourselves. Thus, over the many years grimacing in front of the mirror, we acquire new skills, become more plastic and able to express ourselves; we discover ourselves for ourselves, both outside and inside. We learn from ourselves, or rather from our own reflection, which, on the one hand, is us, and on the other hand, is not quite us, but the rays of lights falling perpendicular on a smooth surface.

We see ourselves in the mirrors and webcams of our iPhones, laptops, and (for some reason) we believe our eyes. Daily selfies taken with a phone as well as social networks let us be whoever we want. Our possibilities are truly endless. Today you are your own director, your own actor, your own film crew, whoever you want. Someone perceives it as a game and entertainment, and someone – as the truth and reality. I prefer playing a lead role in my life, and right now it is the role in Pink Punk Opera. Therefore, I will sing my diary notes, dress up in different clothes and dance in the dreams of my imagination, taking it all on camera and laughing at myself, bringing together the seemingly incompatible images and words, allowing myself to be absurd and punk-pink.

Xenia Dranysh

December 2018