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57° Venice Biennale - Valery Koshlyakov

We have never stopped building utopia

May 11–June 29, 2017

Ca’ Foscari Esposizioni, Venice

in cooperation with the Museum of Russian Impressionism, Moscow


Ca’ Foscari University’s Centro Studi sulle Arti della Russia (CSAR).


Valery Koshlyakov will unveil a large-scale solo exposition at Ca’ Foscari Esposizioni on May 11th, thus returning to the shores of the Venetian Lagoon, where in 2003 he represented Russia at the 50th Venice Biennale.


Valery Koshlyakov
Valery Koshlyakov1
Valery Koshlyakov



Koshlyakov’s large canvases record images of internal disintegration, of things that have survived turmoil and shock, and frozen into classical ruins, as if trapped in empty monumental shells. The phantasms of cities, people, and eras succeed each other, the outward guises of an art that relentlessly demands the incarnation of Utopia. They are memories and daydreams in which the reality of landscape is imbued with the hunger for a miracle to come true. The Kremlin, Notre Dame, the Colosseum and the Parthenon, the ruins of Pompei, and Stalin-era buildings are the places we identify in Koshlyakov’s paintings, where they walk the fine line between dream and reality. Here, these magnificent buildings take on the vague aspect of ghostly ruins. By blurring the outlines of civilization’s great monuments, Koshlyakov seemingly reveals their true essence, attempting to capture the fragility of the utopian dream and the greatness doomed to inevitable dissolution that we find in these mighty symbols of power.


In this sense, Venice itself, with its magnificent borderline splendor, harmonizes perfectly with Koshlyakov’s grandiose pictures of magnificent decay. The Venice show will feature works dealing with this fabulous city on the water and its famous palaces. Moreover, the subject of architecture and palace interiors, whether Muscovite or Venetian, is the exhibition’s backbone. Koshlyakov’s large paintings resemble, rather, stage scenery, as if we were in the audience at a play entitled The Seven Sisters of Moscow, in which the starring roles were played by Moscow’s famous Stalin-era skyscrapers, exemplars of socialist classicism. In a sense, we can talk about gigantism in Koshlyakov’s work. Employing a variety of media, including cardboard, packing tape, plastic, and metal, his magnificent panoramas generate an impressive space that captivates the eyes and imaginations of viewers.


“All of Koshlyakov’s work teeters on the edge of instability and fragility, the nervous oscillation between high culture’s refined nobility and the brutal reality of garbage, between a conscious pride in possessing all the riches of the historical legacy and the capacity to hear the ruthless rattling of the present day. Skilled at generating forms and spaces, this master is not afraid of rude means of expression. His person combines the subtle poet and the savage warrior,” writes Danilo Eccher.


Two floors of the gallery space at Ca’ Foscari University will house large-scale paintings, sculptures, and art objects.


One of the oldest universities in Europe, Ca’ Foscari promotes Russian culture and art. It has an excellent exhibition space that has hosted exhibitions by the stars of international art.


The project is a collaboration with Ca’ Foscari University’s Centro Studi sulle Arti della Russia (CSAR).