Two of the Kiev Travel Blog writers have recently joined Ilona, one of our professional guides and an avid artist, on a guided tour of some of the best contemporary art exhibitions of the Ukrainian capital. The walking tour included visiting galleries and art centres, both big and small, known and lesser-known, in order to really get a feel for the range of exhibitions available to the art lover visiting Kiev at any given moment . We thought it would be nice to share with you all a little bit about a couple of the galleries we visited and their current summer exhibitions to whetten your appetite to come and see the breathtaking pieces of work for yourselves and contemplate the depth of their artists’ intentions with the help of a guide who is well acquainted with the Kiev creative scene.
Pinchuk Art Centre
Located in the city centre by the famous Besarabsky Market, the Pinchuk Art Centre is the best-known and biggest of its kind in Kiev, with its coinciding exhibitions presented over several floors. Despite its exterior appearance being that of building that has witnessed the events of the historic area in which it sits, the interior has been completely renovated in a modern, clean style with a plentiful supply of natural light and a view from the coffee shop to rival London’s Tate Modern. It’s transformation into the home of contemporary art it is today was completed in 2006,with the financial help of the Ukrainian philanthropic organisation the Viktor Pinchuk Foundation. Since it opened its doors to the public over 10 years ago, it has seen almost 2 milllion visitors and has been recognised as the biggest private art centre in Eastern Europe. The centres prides itself on being a platform for the best Ukrainian and international contemporary artists as well as for society as a whole, “bridging the gap between national identity and international challenge” as well as displaying “the complexity of the world”.
It is with these aims in mind that the current exhibition “Fragile State” has been established. The art centre’s webpage describes the exhibition as one which portrays how a “fragile State often reveals a delicate moment of vulnerability and might be an accurate description of the world around us. The notion of Fragile State reflects upon the fragile state of the world order, or in a more abstract sense it refers to ideological, cultural and social vulnerabilities. But it is equally a notion that can be understood in a deeply personal sense, the fragility of body and mind.” This exhibition is a truly international one with exhibitors origins being as diverse as ones possible interpretations of their depiction of “Fragile State”- which naturally can refer to the fragile state of humanity or an invidual or indeed an entire nation and its ideology. The contemporary pieces which particularly stook in my mind were that of 2-metre tall vases showing the harsh reality of HIV and Ebola viruses in the African continent, an atmospheric recording of a piano buring slowly on the iconic, yet symbolic Hadrian’s wall between England and Scotland and results of a social experiment from schooldesks throughout the world, which shows the doodles and inner throughts of children allowed to write and draw on fabric left on their school desks during lessons. This exhibition is without a shadow of a doubt one which must be experienced and one from which one must draw one’s own conclusions and interpretations. Alongside the “Fragile State” exhibition, the centre is also running various research platforms including one entitled “Motherland on Fire”, particularly pertinent to any visitor to Ukraine.
Sat discreetly in one of the courtyards of the grand buildings surrounding the popular relaxation spot Taras Schevschenko Park, this gallery is a hidden gemand well worth a visit. Opened in 2006, this gallery is described as a “gallery of modern and conceptual art, a platform for artistic experimentation, research and social projects”. Located below street levels, the feel within this gallery couldn’t be more different to the large expanses of the Pinchuk Art Centre, with a much more relaxed feel with direct interaction from the gallery staff. Their two open-plan rooms are currently home to the Summer Show, a collection of intriguing contemporary artworks from 6 different artists- “famous personalities of Ukrainian art stage, who are having vivid exhibition activities, as well as not yet well-known by public young artists, whose works are of no less value”. A personal favourite for us within this particular gallery was Sergiy Zapadnya’s “Digital Dreams”, a generative collection of artwork created entirely through computer algorithm. Therefore, the artist is unaware or unconscious of the result until the point it is generated and he has the choice whether to accept or reject the creation. Other conceptual works in the gallery leave much to the imagination, with both guide and staff being on hand to compare your interpretations to the intentions of the exhibitor.
If you are interested in seeing these galleries as well as several others, register for our guided tour on the 26th August 2017 here or visit our website to reserve your own individual artistic tour in Kiev and BeEnriched!