wanderlust

In God’s Candystore

Sandmann Gallery has moved to a new location, leaving behind the gallery-rich Linienstrasse, and inhabiting another charming corner of Mitte near the historic Gendarmenmarkt. Past the cathedrals, luxury stores, and gray government buildings, who would have thought this neighborhood is harboring the critical and often satirical artwork of a young Russian artist? The monographic exhibit  entitled “We are fine!” features a range of artwork from Aleksandra Koneva, the youngest artist among  a handful of Russian artists represented by the gallery.  With a reasonably-sized room and four sections, or wings,  the viewer embarks on a cultural fieldtrip through Western and Eastern Europe, as well as through the artist’s mind.

 

As kitschy as can be: Disneyland in Mitte
 

My first thought was that the artist must be quite obsessed with Disney. Directly across from the entrance, the visitor is greeted by a gigantic, domesticated Minnie Mouse who is holding shopping bags filled with fake fruits and vegetables . Her confident label of “I got it,” grabs the visitor’s attention, as does a close up view of the various fabric, golden foil, dish-sponges and cardboard that she is constructed by – all neatly nailed together, some nails rusted over. The wall to the left has masterpieces by European artists transformed and taken over by Disney characters. An imitation of Raphael’sMadonna Sistina” wants to shock implicitly: the Virgin Mary and baby Jesus are replaced by Minnie Mouse holding a baby Mickey Mouse, as Goofy and Daisy Duck look on in awe. 
 

Madonna-Sistina-2011-Aleksandra-Koneva
Bubblegum blasphemy: “Madonna Sistina” by Aleksandra Koneva.
Photo: courtesy of Galerie Sandmann 2011.

 

The wall directly opposite, showcases altered work by famous Russian artists. Pop-culture allusions and figures make cameos throughout – from Wassilij Perow’s “Hunters at Rest” becoming a boys night out with Batman, Spiderman, and Superman, to Orest Kiprensky’s “Alexander Puschkin” suddenly becoming part of a Playboy magazine cover. The sheer absurdity makes you cringe. 
 

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