Victoria Lomasko, Anton Nikolaev - Tagansky Justice

Opening: Wednesday, 18th January 2012, 7 pm
Exhibition lasts until 31st March 2012

Knoll Gallery Vienna presents the series of drawings from “Forbidden Art” (Zapretnoye Iskusstvo) - a 158-page documentary graphic novel published by Boomkniga Publishers in St. Petersburg in October, 2011.
With drawings by artist Viktoria Lomasko and text written mostly by artist and former political journalist Anton Nikolayev, both from Moscow, the book documents the legal trial of the organizers of the “Forbidden Art 2006” exhibition held at the Andrei Sakharov museum and community center in Moscow. The trial was brought by the Orthodox Christian nationalist movement Narodny Sobor (People’s Council).
The shameful trial of the art-curators turned into medieval witch-hunting and looked similar to Soviet show trials held under Joseph Stalin in the 1930s. Thanks to the graphic novel we can see all chapters of this social comedy and theatre of absurd:
“One illustration shows an improbable scene in which the female judge sprays a group of old religious women who have come to support the prosecution with a bottle of French perfume.
“When the trial was coming to a close, it was summer and it was abnormally hot, almost 39 degrees, while the courtrooms are small rooms that they hardly ever air, and it stank horribly of sweat in there,” Lomasko said.
“Suddenly, Judge Alexandrova produced her French perfume and started spraying the Orthodox women with the words ‘People should wash.’ And they replied, ‘You go and get washed.’”
(A new graphic novel documents the trial of two art curators. By Sergey Chernov. The St. Petersburg Times. October 5, 2011)

In 2010, organisers of the exhibition show “Forbidden Art-2006“ - Andrei Yerofeyev and Yury Samodurov - were found guilty of inciting religious hatred and were given substantial fines (the state prosecutor had called for three-year prison sentences for both). Additionally, both lost their jobs during the course of the trial, while a strong message was sent to galleries and museums, warning them to avoid dealing with controversial subjects, either political or religious. Soon after the verdict, Patriarch Kirill I, who has headed the Russian Orthodox Church since February 2009, condemned the exhibition’s organizers, saying they were involved in “demonic activities.”

About the series Forbidden Art the artists used to say: “We wanted to achieve a synthesis of text and imagery that would be so solid and aesthetically beautiful that it could make the grade as a work of art.” According to Lomasko, the two went to the hearings against Samodurov and Vasilovskaya, where Lomasko made live sketches, while Nikolayev recorded the developments and his own thoughts. Both recorded remarks made by participants during the trial.

Victoria Lomasko – graphic artist, book illustrator, art-curator. Graduated Moscow State Academy of Printing Arts. Lives and works in Moscow. Starting from 2003 cooperates with various publishing houses and mass media. Participates in contemporary art exhibitions and international festivals of comics art. Lomasko uses the genre of so called "social comics" or “social reportage” to depict Russian judicial system, prisons and political activity in the country. Author of well-known courtroom sketches from the trial of Mikhail Khodorkovsky and Platon Lebedev, Sergey Mokhnatkin and Michael Beketov. Participant of the collective international exhibition “Drawing the Court” at Gelabert Srtudios Gallery (New-York, 2010). Author of drawing books: “Province” 2010 and “Forbidden Art” 2011 (in cooperation with Anton Nikolaev).

Anton Nikolaev - artist, journalist, curator, the founder of radical art-group "Bombily" (in cooperation with Alexandr Rossikhin). Nikolaev represents "artivism" (art+activism) division in contemporary russian art. He is famous blogger and author of several essays, concerning new type of political and social art in Russia. According to the conception of Nikolaev, Bombily was the real precursors of well-known art-group Voina.