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Windows and Factories

Window and factories...

... this is the new exhibition of the architect Alexander Brodsky in the Marat and Julia Guelman Gallery. Brodsky rarely exhibits his objects. Nevertheless, they are invariably popular with viewers and the Press. That's because Brodsky reflects upon that which is most important in the everyday life of a city dweller the surrounding environment. And, of course, the city dweller's place in it. If other architects often choose the genre of printed publications for contemplating these themes, then Brodsky shares his views with the help of refined objects and installations.

Brodsky's works are not ascribed to concrete addresses, he seldom resorts to working in the style of well-known architectural monuments. And nevertheless, everyone knows that the "story" of his objects is about Moscow. That's why, most likely, there are almost never any people as such in his works: in the expanse of Moscow all the people are small, practically unnoticeable. There is not even the "Medny Vsadnik" ("The Bronze Horseman") with which one could begin fighting, as did Pushkin's Evgeny. Moscow is imagined by Brodsky to be an environment of entropy. In the impressive installation "Coma" (2000, the Guelman Gallery) Moscow was gradually sinking into a grey mass. Then we still did not understand what this substance symbolised. After a few years Moscow finally transformed into a gigantic paid car park and branching network of traffic-jams. The grey is the cars and the products of their activity.

In such an inhuman environment Brodsky creates precise and lyrical, in as far as it is possible, images. Three "Factories" are the central objects of the new exhibition. These are relatives of Brodsky's installation called "Inhabited localities", which was a hit of the exhibition 'The Artist's Diary" in 2005. If in "Inhabited localities" Brodsky paid attention to the winter picturesqueness of an ordinary housing estate, then "Factories" is dedicated to industrial architecture. And instead of snow in vast aquariums on small carts with handles, smoke rises. In contrast to "Inhabited localities", the viewer does not operate an inbuilt mechanism: the factories "work" automatically. In the context of Moscow air pollution "Factories" appears to be almost like the best model of ecology.

The series "Windows" is a new technique in the arsenal of Brodsky-the artist. These are light-boxes, painted in acrylic. Brodsky first made objects of this type for the exhibition "Russian Povera" in Perm. They remind one of shop windows and windows of buildings, closed for repairs. Brodsky has drawn semi-abstract compositions on wet acrylic using his fingers. Stylistically they are close to the graphic works of another well-known architect Evgeny Asse. These are spacious objects with an almost unnoticeable horizon line, landscapes of plains without architectural and natural focal points.

The last object of the exhibition was made modeled on the regular pattern of American graveyards. Tea bags with the portraits of fictional personalities, placed in strict order, go off into the distance owing to mirror boards on supports. This is a new version of the installation "72 Tea Bags", made by Brodsky in 1991.

Alexander Brodsky...

... is one of the most well-known Russian architects in the world. He was born in 1955. Brodsky began working in the sphere of "paper architecture" in the 1980s. Brodsky and Iliya Utkin together participated in Russian and international exhibitions. As a practising architect Brodsky made "Pavilion for Vodka Ceremonies" in the "Klyazminskoe Reservoir" resort (2004), the design of the "Apshu" club (2003, jointly with Yaroslav Kovalchuk) and "Street O. G. I." (2001). He received the Grand prize of the festival Arch-Moscow (2005) for the project "House for Retired Footballers". In 2006 Brodsky represented Russia at the Biennale of contemporary architecture in Venice. Brodsky's works are held in museums and private collections in Russia, Italy and other countries. He has been working with the M&J Guelman Gallery since 1997.

Valentin Diaconov

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