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Review: From Moscow with Love at PDMB Gallery

Posted By Administration, Thursday, July 26, 2012
Updated: Friday, January 3, 2014

Extended through September 1, 2012

Featuring work by seven contemporary Russian photographers

Ranging from formal elegance to political commentary the work of the seven photographers on display at PDNB is indeed a special selection. Burt Finger, Director of PDNB Gallery, was invited to join Russian Curators to participate in the first International Portfolio Review in Moscow. This show represents a selection made by Finger from the participants.

Among the exhibiting artists are Dmitri Belikov, Mikhall Dashevsky, Gregori Malofis, Ivan Mikhallov, Valery Samarin, Vitaly Smimov, and Eugene Zaluzhny. For some of the artists this is their first exposure in the United States.

Malofis's works seem to come from different series, but the thread of a single hand weaves like-toned frames together that overall evoke the sense of performance and spectacle. In Figurative Paining a ballerina and a bear stand for a portrait. A monkey makes more than one appearance- he lifts a barbell in God Makes the Back to the Burden and in Imitation is the sincerest form of flattery he slips a sheet of paper into what is reminiscent of a ballot box. The titles work to reinforce underlying metaphor while the images are generally soft, pretty, and playful. So too are the works by Samarin. The shadow is the main character in high-contrast frames of silverware. Smirnov's huts are formal and stark representations of tattered dwellings. There is a quiet stillness to the structures that starts to speak to the human condition.

Work by Dashevsky and Beliakov, continue to speak to condition with frames that touch on themes of fear and power. There is a tug between these two emotions that seems to belong to sides of the same coin. Dashevsky's street scenes from 1990's set the tone and Beliakov helps us to dig a bit deeper. In Beliakov's March 2006, Grozny, Chechnya a mother bathes her children in a bombed out structure and in April 15, 2002, Chechnya, Area of Severny soldiers tredge though muddied fields. These two frames alone move perfectly between polarizing sentiment. Zaluzhny's formal portraits of decorated veterans enhances the more dynamic field work of the two formerly artists mentioned.

There is something about the work of Mikhailov that steals the show. Mikahailov photographs playgrounds at night; each frame becomes a monument to the past. Slides, forts, and jungle gyms all take the shape of rockets. The peeling paint and rusting forms were all built durring the space race and endure. Again we have dual emotions that are linked- success and failure. Past glory seems to have left behind a strange frame that today looks to be more skin and bone than flesh. These works summ up the whole of emotion brought together by the other artist's included- there is a sense of life and play, a sense of spectacle and glory, a swelling of pride, and a gritty truth to layers of history. All these narratives converge in the lighted darkness of the playgrounds.

Review in Paper City

Review in the Dallas News

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