Gallery SHCHUKIN to Open New York Branch with Aladdin Garunov Exhibit, 5/1

Gallery SHCHUKIN to Open New York Branch with Aladdin Garunov Exhibit, 5/1

Gallery SHCHUKIN has announced the opening of its New York branch on 524 West 19th Street, with the exhibition of works by Dagestan-born artist and sculptor Aladdin Garunov. Curated by Matthew Drutt, Aladdin Garunov: Selected Works, 1998-2013, is the artist's first solo show in the United States, on view May 1 - June 30, 2014. The gallery also has an exhibition space in Paris and a representative office in Moscow.

One of the first galleries to bring Russian contemporary art to Western audiences, Gallery SHCHUKIN has introduced many artists who have become prominent figures on the international stage. This inaugural exhibition, reflecting the gallery's history and commitment to discovering and cultivating international talent, surveys Garunov's work of the past fifteen years and encompasses 29 paintings and objects.

As Mr. Drutt writes in the publication that will accompany the exhibition: "Aladdin Garunov's art occupies a position seemingly rife with contradictions. Utterly contemporary in idiom and execution, it is also replete with references to belief systems and materials indigenous to his native Dagestan, a Russian federal republic on the border of the Caspian Sea better known in the world for its militant Islamism than for its rich cultural traditions. But it is precisely these tensions-old vs. new, the patriarchal East vs. the progressive West, Asian vs. European spiritual views-that form the complex matrix of Garunov's art.

Since the mid-1980s, when he relocated to Moscow to study art, graduating from what was then the Stroganov Higher Art Industry College, Garunov has largely marched to his own drummer, eschewing the prevailing Postmodernist styles of Perestroika artists, who celebrated and critiqued both the fall of Communism and Russia's romantic attachment to its deeply embedded visual icons. Instead, Garunov followed his interest in Modernism and its language of abstract painting, which sought to be the secular equivalent of spirituality formerly found in figurative, religious art. To that, he brought the non-objective traditions of art in the Muslim world, which richly combines pattern and language but completely avoids figuration. Finally, Garunov has created a further layer of intricacy by occupying the language of painting but displacing paint as a material, instead using everything from discarded Asian carpets to industrial materials such as rubber, which refers in part to the oil economies of the countries neighboring Dagestan.

The result is a body of work that looks both familiar and exotic, Minimalist in conception but robust in execution, with surprising combinations of fur, Arabic calligraphy, and found objects that remind us of the Combine painting strategies of Rauschenberg.

The works selected for this exhibition span the entire period of Garunov's mature output as an artist. They represent one aspect of his work-he also works with installations, video, and paintings-- and show how his exploration of the painting/object has evolved from his first tentative forays to his more commanding works of the past few years. At a time when tensions between the Muslim and non-Muslim worlds are at an all time state of tension and crisis, Garunov's art of poetic coherence and reconciliation is a fitting tribute to how differences can comfortably, if not harmonically, coexist."

The exhibition will be accompanied by a fully illustrated catalog published by Gallery SHCHUKIN.

Image: Untitled, 2010. Rubber, carpet, industrial fabric

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