Exhibition of Russian Contemporary Art

St. Petersburg Restaurant, 7a York Street, L1
June 18th - July 18th

Reviewed by E. Hughes

I am invited into the restaurant by a very nice, but busy looking, Russian gentleman. I am led up to a small room at the top of the building and here left to my devices; I would not call it an exhibition in the accepted sense of being able to view them in peace, and come and go as you please.

Anyway, most of the paintings are by Victor Fedetov, but some of them are also by Valeriy Beregov. Valeriy’s ‘Yaroslavi Bridge’ is a very atmospheric painting, in fact all of his paintings are gently impressionistic in style, and could rank with any of the late 19th century impressionists.

Victor’s paintings on the other hand are like wonderful scribbles of paint, with forms and shapes clamouring out of the chaos. Two, ‘Manchester Houses’ and ‘Outskirts’ are incredibly characterful and speak of lost times and lost places. Another, ‘At the brink of eternity’ is a paint scribbled mess, with a figure, reminiscent of Jesus, but which could also be female holding the whole picture together. This stands out for me.

Three words: Vincent Van Gogh! But his own style comes through too. Five minutes in a restaurant, listening to staff joking in Russian, is not enough to make lasting judgements, but the work here is very good. However, a busy, or not too busy in this case, restaurant is perhaps not the best place to show off artists work. I cannot formulate opinions in five minutes, and the atmosphere, though congenial, did not really loan itself to more than five minutes; who can sum up a person’s life in five minutes?

Who can tell what mindspace an artist works in? Surreal? Pragmatic? Avant Garde? Realistic? Pretentious? Precious? Man (or woman) of the people? Everyday hack, or otherworldly genius? The gentleman was Armenian, not Russian; I asked him as I left.