The Lazarev Gallery wants you to come inside. Located near the Neva River on the 6thLine of Vasilievsky Island in St. Petersburg, the renovated historical building with tinted windows and assorted English and Russians signs formed in glass and bronze welcomes the artistically curious.
The gallery opened in the summer of 2007 and became an instant hit in the St. Petersburg art scene for its “unprecedented, brave approach to exhibitions,” as the website describes. For the month of April, Marina Fedorova’s exhibition of “Non-Random Connections” compliments the reputation of the gallery, exhibiting paintings with sculptures, a sound installation, and some well-planned lighting effects.
Marina Fedorova is a young Russian artist. She graduated from the Stirliz Fine Art School in St. Petersburg when she was 15. She then studied design at N.K. Roerich Art Academy, which is known for its exceptional design alumni. After graduation, she went on to study in the new fashion design department at Mukhina Fine Art Academy, one of the most reputable art academies in the country. After graduating in 2006, her career as an artist took off, including exhibitions in the art fairs Art-Moscow and Art-Paris, as well as recognition in Forbes magazine as “one of the most promising young artists in Russia.”
“Non-Random Connections” is a cinematographic collection of paintings, each appearing to be a paused frame amidst greater physical and emotional movements within a story. Fedorova uses text to create stories for her portraits of women walking, undressing, or looking away from the viewer to a man or the absence of one. Chunky, broad paint strokes of red, black, and white capture the central focus of the paintings, while the edges often remain unrefined, dripping, or smeared, which creates a sense of incompleteness. The use of red is elemental to each piece as an emotional force, defining the attributes of story within the portraits. The addition of plastic sculptures deepens the atmosphere of the pieces, creating powerful, fantastical extensions of the world within the painting. The use of lighting is also interesting. Directly focused on the paintings, the bright lamps spotlight the images amidst a rather dark gallery, setting the viewer apart in a voyeuristic view. Throughout the gallery, heavy panting and a young, female French singer can be heard from speakers, adding a sensual element to the exhibition.
“When You’ve Gone Away…” encapsulates all of these things and is the first painting one sees in the exhibition. Half the canvas is white, the piece’s title written in black cursive at the center. The rest is a portrait of a girl in a bra, facing away from the viewer to a disheveled bed and the image of a man in a suit walking away, the sway of his hand the only clearly visible part of him. The entire portrait is smeared like an unfocused photograph. In front of the painting hangs a carved, red, plastic heart with a mass of veins extended outward in a root-like circle. The entire piece evokes emotions of longing, isolation, and unbridled love.
“Butterflies” is one of the most striking pieces in the exhibition. Fantastical, visceral, and absolutely intimate, the focus of the portrait is on a woman’s bare chest. Her head is thrown back while her two hands pull apart an opening in her chest, releasing a mass of butterflies. In front of the painting hangs a chandelier of red, plastic butterflies, each glowing from inserted LED lights. They reflect onto the painting in a brilliant red that is hard to discern from the painting. Fedorova also used her non-conforming exhibition style to express different ways of seeing. “Painting-Viewer-Artist” is a collection of two paintings situated in front of a mirror. The central painting shows a coffee machine with arms holding a cup of coffee. The second painting shows a person looking at the central painting. All the while, the mirror reflects these images. The real viewer in the Lazarev Gallery enters the painting in this way, forced to grapple with the reality of the painting, for which there does not seem to be a definition of a beginning and an end.
The Lazarev Gallery’s five halls of more than 400 square meters hold a little more than 20 of Marina Fedorova’s works, some more recent than others. After perusing the exhibition, one is left with the desire to simply see more of her works. She is known for her quick style of painting and the ability to sell her pieces, giving her an edge in the art market for exhibitions. She will turn up fairly quickly again in St. Petersburg or Paris, her two main hometowns at the moment, or beyond. In the past six years, she has produced work for 37 exhibitions and festivals. She’s young, busy, and on a bright path to success. The Lazarev Gallery, with its modern exhibition equipment will certainly surprise the St. Petersburg art scene with another unique exhibition in the near future.
Details: The Lazarev Gallery is located on the 6th Line of the Vasilievsky Line in St. Petersburg. Please check here for a map to the gallery from the Vasileostrovskaya Metro, which is quite close. The gallery is closed on Mondays. All other days, it is open from 11am- 8pm. Entrance is free of charge! Come as often as you like!