Елена Окунева
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VIRTUAL MUSEUM OF CONTEMPORARY UKRAINIAN ART: tradition and revolution of Zhanna Kadyrova

VIRTUAL MUSEUM OF CONTEMPORARY UKRAINIAN ART: tradition and revolution of Zhanna Kadyrova
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Source: nv.ua


Formally, Zhanna Kadyrova has already grown out of the concept of “young artist”, which means authors under 35 years old. Nevertheless, Kadyrova still wants to be attributed to the young generation of contemporary Ukrainian artists, not because of the immaturity of her work, everything is exactly the opposite, but thanks to the freshness of her look, the absence of snobbery and the ability to balance between institutional work and underground culture.

Kadyrova succeeds in creating witty social-critical art without slipping into moralizing and arrogant, abstruse conceptuality.

Zhanna Kadyrova’s artistic self-identification was preceded by a series of seemingly random events. Despite the fact that her father is an artist and her sister is a sculptor, and that she herself studied at the Republican Art School (Republican Art High School), young Kadyrova was not seriously going to become an artist.

However, during the 2004 revolution, everything changed because of her indifference and desire to express this indifference creatively. It was at that time that an association began to form, which became literally legendary and largely influenced the artistic landscape of modern Ukrainian art.


VIRTUAL MUSEUM OF CONTEMPORARY UKRAINIAN ART: tradition and revolution of Zhanna Kadyrova
Second Hand, Venice, 2019


We are talking about the R.E.P. group. Revolutionary Experimental Space, which, in addition to Zhanna Kadyrova, also included Nikita Kadan, Lada Nakonechnaya, Ksenia Gnilitskaya, Olesya Khomenko and Vladimir Kuznetsov.

Thanks to these artists, socially engaged and critical art in Ukraine has not only become fashionable, but rather a sign of good form. And although subsequently each of the group members developed their own handwriting and artistic language, their work was often based on a common circle of topics on which they had worked together.

One of these topics is the rethinking of the legacy of past eras, in particular the USSR. Quite a large percentage of Zhanna Kadyrova’s works are devoted to this issue, even the choice of her “proprietary” material was dictated by Soviet monumentalism.

Kadyrova uses tiles, smalt and creates mosaic objects that can be classified by periods and thematic series. Somewhere, as, for example, in the Diamonds series, the tiles are rather the personification of everyday life, “everyday life”, contrasting with the shape of precious stones and thus criticizing the consumer society. Somewhere, as in the Second Hand project, the tiles serve exactly the theme of the continuity of generations.


VIRTUAL MUSEUM OF CONTEMPORARY UKRAINIAN ART: tradition and revolution of Zhanna Kadyrova
Diamonds, 2006


It is curious that when reproducing her works in other countries, Kadyrova uses local materials and, in general, tries to adapt her work to the local context. In the same Second Hand, during an installation in Venice, the artist placed the “washing” on clotheslines typical of this city, and took the tiles from a hotel under reconstruction in the city center.

Zhanna Kadyrova works in the field of art, which in English is called the term site specific, meaning works of art that are created for a specific place or situation.

In a recent interview, the artist admits that she is very impressed with this approach when she is invited to a city or town, or location for which a sculpture or object needs to be created. She says that in this way a truly sincere and appropriate art is obtained.

An example of such synergy can be the collaboration of Zhanna Kadyrova with Shargorod, for which the artist created several installations. In particular, the witty Monument to a New Monument, which forever fixed the intrigue, the riddle about who is hiding under a white cape, which will never be solemnly removed, revealing the secret of the immortal person.

One of the possible interpretations of this sculpture may be the inability of post-Soviet Ukraine to determine what to do with the legacy of the USSR, including who should be ranked as heroes and who as enemies.

By the way, local residents of Shargorod also did not come to a consensus about the monument of Kadyrova. But on the other hand, this discussion brought them together and led to the fact that the community ennobled the territory around the sculpture and cared for it together.


VIRTUAL MUSEUM OF CONTEMPORARY UKRAINIAN ART: tradition and revolution of Zhanna Kadyrova
Monument to a New Monument, 2009


This effect appeals to the artist, because she is a supporter of the democratization of art. As a constant guest of marches and rallies and openly expressing her civic position, Zhanna Kadyrova actively participates in the life of society, and it is quite natural that she is flattered when society reciprocates her, interacting with her works.

Often, her projects are fundamentally dependent on the external environment, the environment, both as a physical space and as a social context. In this regard, it is doubly pleasant that such art is becoming relevant not only due to the currant topics and agenda, but also due to the lively response and even complicity of the general public.


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