'The Man Who Flew Into Space From His Apartment 1985.' Photo credit: The Tate.
'The Man Who Flew Into Space From His Apartment 1985.' Photo credit: The Tate.
'The Collage of Spaces.' Photo credit: The Tate.
'The Collage of Spaces.' Photo credit: The Tate.
'How to Meet an Angel 1998.' Photo credit: The Tate.
'How to Meet an Angel 1998.' Photo credit: The Tate.

A review of Ilya and Emilia Kabakov: Not Everyone Will Be Taken into The Future at the Tate

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Kesaia Toganivalu reviews this exhibition, having never heard of a couple that the Tate hailed as “pioneers of installation art”, and once she left, it was clear to see why.

The exhibition started by separately charting Ilya Kabakov’s career. The first room centred on Ilya’s early art.

What I found interesting was the fact that he chose not to be state approved, and how the lack of Soviet endorsement shaped his art- one of the ways being that he was forced to use cheaper materials, such as plywood.

I find traditional art often appealing to the eye but unyielding for much else.

However, with Ilya’s art, because of the political climate, there was a deeper meaning in something that at first looked bright and colourful.

An example of a piece that particularly struck me was “Soccer Player”, an acrid blue painting with a silhouette of a football player whose frame is filled with a country backdrop.

The word “Uglich” is written in Cyrillic, this is particularly poignant since the historic town was home to gulag prison camps. Therefore, giving the painting a more sinister context.

Ilya’s painting had a tension between the fraught modern political climate he lived in and traditionalism. Here were large paintings done in a similar vein to Cézanne and yet the printed Russian text that cut across it bought its relevancy to more recent times.

As the paintings progressed to large whole room installations, the rift between fantasy and reality took centre stage.

In one piece, numerous pots and pans were struck up in a room like origami cranes. Through his art, we were encroaching on something intimate and almost fantastical since in almost all these pieces’ miniature white figures were dotted amongst the household objects.

Their partnership was not until the 1980s and in Room Four, we saw pieces of art by the both of them. These pieces toyed with scale and saw the introduction of “giants” as characters within the installations.

This exhibition showed me that even in an environment of intense control art was still being used as a means of expression.

There was a huge whole room installation of Not Everyone Will Be Taken Into The Future. Ilya Kabakov had contributed to an essay of the same name regarding Russian artist Kazimir Malevich, he reflected that some artists would be seen as worthy and taken forward and remembered in the future, whilst others, forgotten.

This piece took a thought-provoking reflection and turned it into something tangible. The large train and tracks epitomised the fleeting sense art could have.

A room with an angel theme explored the idea of escape. There was often fun in the way the two artists presented such a troubling time, such as through fictional characters and stories.

I would recommend it to anyone, particularly people my own age since I feel it focuses on a period we should learn more.

Ilya and Emilia Kabakov, Not Everyone Will Be Taken into The Future runs until 28 January 2018 at the Tate.

Tickets: adult £13.30 (£11.30 without donation), under 12s FREE (up to four per family adult), family tickets (two adults and two children 12–18 years) available by telephone or in the gallery.

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