"The Artist and Theater" in the Eyes of Mikhail Shemyakin: Grotesque and Props in the Saratov Museum

In the Saratov State Art Museum named after A.N. Radishchev, there is a real maestro of the Petersburg stage, Mikhail Shemyakin, with a large-scale project “Artist and Theater”. The exhibition allows not only to look behind the scenes in the truest sense of the word, but also to see all the secrets of how brilliant performances are created.This anthology of creativity of the famous Petersburg theater artist introduces the visitors to the entire backstage “cuisine” of the ballets: The Nutcracker, The Magic Nut, Metaphysical Ballet, The Meek, The Spring Sacred, Coppelia. The exposition consists of mock-ups of scenery, fantastic costumes and masks, sketches? by which the magic world of ballet was created for the Mariinsky Theater and the National Opera and Ballet Theaters in Vilnius and Sofia.“My ballets are mostly copyrighted: I write the libretto myself, I work on decorations, costumes, on the last button on my uniform. Sometimes I even create new dances, ”says the artist.The theatrical element shown by Shemyakin is not just a set of "bricks" that make up the presentation, but also a philosophical understanding of the "unreality", submitted by themes: death, theater, metaphysical images and ... still lifes!

“The powerful art of Shemyakin is akin to theater, unusual and unpredictable. In this theater, in which masks abound, and so whimsical intersections of lines, and so perplexing colors, and so much apparent chaos - in fact, internal order and a rational goal prevail, and quite accessible tragedies and quite worthy hopes live under the masks ”.
B. Okudzhava, Moscow, 1989
Costume design for the Magic Nut ballet by S. Slonimsky. Sea Horse. 2005.

Share Share Share According to Mikhail Shemyakin, very often he is inspired by the work of the great German storyteller Hoffmann. The layering in the images from the carnival grotesque to the images of the Silver Age is presented at the exhibition in the most unusual interpretations.“Perhaps this exhibition will not be the last, perhaps we will see its other preferences, its other directions in order to have a more complete picture of this complex, deep and interesting artist,” Tamara Gradskova, director of the Saratov State Museum named after Radishchev, shares his impressions.Especially for the exhibition, Mikhail Shemyakin recreated the mock-up of the scenery of the ballet “Copellia” based on the work of Hoffmann “The Sandman” - visitors can see how complex and multi-layered theatrical design is. By the way, this ballet was never shown in the theater capital of Russia - St. Petersburg ... And for the ballet "The Nutcracker" Mikhail Shemyakin created more than 1000 sketches!Another highlight of the exhibition are photos of carnival processions, organized by the artist himself in Venice and St. Petersburg. In this part the music merges with the painting and theatrical performance. Bizarre, ugly and fantastic - the images created by the Petersburg maestro resemble caricatures that are aimed at a dialogue with the audience, on his understanding of theatrical archetypes.“We all live in the theater, sometimes comic, sometimes sad, and in Russia always with elements and moments of Harms” Mikhail ShemyakinCreativity of the artist is undoubtedly one of the best examples of how contemporary art can acquire different forms of expression. The author himself refers to conceptual art with his inherent filosfsky humor: “I lived in SoHo. (London) Leo Castel Gallery was opposite. I look out the window - an exhibition is being prepared there. An empty hall, stands for sculptures, and on one stands a bag of trash. And here I am, an art historian, an artist, staring out at the window at these bags and seriously thinking: is it a sculpture or just someone from the workers forgot to bring out? You see, a whole metaphysical space is created: there is rubbish on the other side of the door, but it was worth bringing it into the gallery hall, and Castel would declare it high art - and a bag of rubbish would cost hundreds of thousands of dollars. ”
... Having become a separate expression, Shakespeare's “The whole world is a theater!” Runs through the whole exhibition. You can see almost living characters of the theater world of Mikhail Shemyakin at the exhibition “Artist and Theater” in the Saratov State Art Museum named after A.N. Radishchev until June 7, at the address: Saratov, ul. Radishchev, 39.