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Beautiful Faraway

An exhibition of Ivan Arkhipov (Russia) and Margrethe Kolstad Brekke (Norway)

Curator: Ekaterina Sharova.

Assistants: Nina Dronova, Victoria Krisman, Alena Bagirova, Alexandra Gordienko, Irina Nikolaeva.

Project Beautiful Faraway is a continuation of cooperative artistic research on Soviet experiment by Margrethe Kolstad Brekke and fine art expert Ekaterina Sharova.

Margrethe Kolstad Brekke keeps working on the theme of utopia and hope: this year the book Utopia by Thomas More celebrates its 500 years anniversary. Ekaterina Sharova works on the topic of collective and individual identity.

In November 2015 Margrethe Kolstad Brekke and Ekaterina Sharova cooperated on the project Utopia500 in the library named after the other utopist Nikolay Dobrolubov, where the artist translated the symbolic Utopian alphabet into the Cyrillic alphabet.

She conducted a patchwork class in art school №1 in Arkhangelsk  as a part of this project. There Margrethe and Ekaterina saw works by Ivan Arkhipov for the first time. They met each other and were talking about art and Soviet history for several hours. Despite the tough illness, Ivan Arkhipov visited the opening of the exhibition Utopia500. In January 2016 Ivan Arkhipov passed away.

This project is a tribute to the memory of the artist who dedicated his creative life to the Russian North as well as an attempt to conceptualize the history of the city and its citizens through the artistic point of view.

“What did Beautiful Faraway mean to us, northern people? How should we live today?” — these are the questions raised in this project.

The key features of Ivan Arkhipov’s works are empathy to his characters and humanism. Besides graphics and painting he worked on decoration of Soviet buildings with cultural and social functions in Arkhangelsk such as Palace of the Pioneers, Constructor’s Palace of Culture, Palace of Sport, project Museum of Wooden Architecture. He was one of the creators of well-known sign 400 years Anniversary of Arkhangelsk.

On this exhibition, you can see the graphics by Arkhipov and works by Margrethe Kolstad Brekke from new angle. Margrethe uses textile to interpret some themes developed by the artist from Arkhangelsk, particularly the decoration sketches of concrete bricks of Krasnoflotski bridge. These sketches were not realized and the USSR ceased to exist.

Margrethe Kolstad Brekke works with textile as with painting. Silk is painted beforehand and the pattern of the work is chosen. The artist exhibited her works in Norway, England, the South Africa and others. Now she is working on the project of a monument in public space Air Ballet which has received the support of Norwegian State Organization Kunst i Offentlige Rom (Art in Public Space).

The exhibition Beautiful Faraway is an inner and outer view on Soviet experience and at the same time an attempt of its conceptualization. This project touches the citizens of the Northern city and those who has never been here.

“My life would be very different if Utopia did not exist in mysterious country nearby. In seventies in Art-Academy in Bergen which I graduated there was a lot of talking about socialistic ethos. The USSR’s experience was motivation and hope for the world’s intelligence (such as Pablo Picasso, Diego Rivera, Jean-Paul Sartre, Albert Camus) beyond its boundaries till fifties when its price was known. Despite the fact that we do not know what is going to be next, what happened during Soviet times is unbelievable. In 20th century important things developed in Russia that were helpful to social-democratic model in Scandinavia. Sometimes I don’t understand symbols used by Ivan Arkhipov but there is always an attention and comprehension of humanity in his portraits”, — Margrethe Kolstad Brekke.

Special thanks to Marina Antipina and all workers of department of art literature in Arkhangelsk region Scientific library named after N.A. Dobrolubov.

This project was supported by Bergen municipality, trade union Norske Billedkunstnere and Honorary Consulate of Norway in Arkhangelsk.