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Review: Yury Rybchinsky in the Wall Street Journal

Posted By Administration, Monday, March 19, 2012
Updated: Monday, January 6, 2014

Underground: Russian Photography 1970's - 1980's

Nailya Alexander Gallery
Through March 24

There is something heavy about the frames of Yuri Rybchinsky. The everyday shots he captured are pedestrian moments, natural every day occurrences in Soviet life at the time. From the outset the work presents an ominous tone; this natural sense is revealed to be true the more time we spend with the work. We feel something secret, something hidden, something else is going on under the surface of every frame. Some of the shots are street scenes: a man with a bucket, a morning in the park, a man with tulip, people by the beach. It is the images taken in prisons help to place and frame the work in a larger context: the shadow of a guard looms over two inmates, prisoners line one end of a long table visit with their families who line the other, a secret view of prisoners barracks reveal one inmate's feet tied to the bed while a guard stands watch over the lot. It is perhaps these prison shots that cause us to pause and look back more carefully at the others: a woman picks skeptically over a pile of ribs in Meat?, a spider tarnishes the face of an Apollo sculpture in Apollo with SpiderUntitled depicts a back alley's refuge alongside reliefs of Marx and Lenin. We learn from these frames that all is not what it seems. Looking farther at the thin frames of the figures, the drunkards who fall in the streets, the overall dis-engagement of the people with the camera and each other stirs emotion within us. We feel the weight and oppression suffered, we see the fear in their eyes, we feel the hunger in their bellies, we feel ourselves drawing inward. The power of Rybchinsky's work is visceral and honest.

For more information on the exhibition pelease visit Nailya Alexander Gallery

Wall Street Journal Review

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