Past exhibition

A. Kasteev Museum of Arts: Yelena and Viktor Vorobyev "The Artist is Asleep"

Yelena and Viktor Vorobyevs' first mid-career retrospective The Artist is Asleep is opening at the A. Kasteev Museum of Arts in Almaty on 27 August 2015. The exhibition is organised by Aspan Gallery in partnership with the Kasteev Museum and generously sponsored by Kazakh investment company BATT Holding. The show was curated by Viktor Misiano, the curator of the first Central Asia Pavillion at the Venice Biennale in 2005. 

The title and the concept of the exhibition was inspired by the artists' installation of the same title, that was presented for the first time at the Terra Incognita group show in Almaty in 1997. The accompanying authorial text proclaims their rejection of art as social production and market order. The artist who is wide awake always is “‘all ears’, knows ‘which way the wind blows’ and has his craft at the ready”. It follows, therefore, that the true artist is a sleeping artist. This is someone who, disregarding careerist vanity and missed opportunities, is able, after awakening and barely having “rubbed open his eyes”, to create a “masterpiece”. Indeed all the artists’ works are embedded with this artistic credo.

Vorobyevs implemented the title The Artist is Asleep practically literally. We have before us a scenographic recreation of a fragment of everydayness – a bed with a recumbent human figure wholly bundled up in a quilt. Accordingly, the artist’s mission is inseparable from the conditions of his existence, and his being – from daily life. Indeed, everydayness is the main object of the Vorobyevs’ creative interests, as well as the realm within which, for the most part, they implement their projects. This programmatic interest in everydayness determined the special place of these artists in the new Almaty scene of the 1990s, of which they are rightly considered to be one of the founders.

Apart from The Artist is Asleep installation the show features 25 large-scale installations, including highly critically acclaimed Bazaar (1990s-2006), Photo for Memory… (2002) and Kazakhstan. Blue Period (2002-2005), as well as new projects presented to public for the first time, such as the Ornamentaliser (2010) and Smiley (2015).

To coincide with the exhibition Aspan Gallery is publishing the artists' first monograph edited by Viktor Misiano. On 29 August Aspan Gallery is also hosting a panel discussion on Vorobyevs' art with the authors of catalogue essays – an art-critic Andrei Fomenko (St. Petersburg), culturologist Alexey Ulko (Samarkand), and curator at M HKA Anders Kreuger (Antwerp). The publication will also be published in English this fall.

The Artist is Asleep exhibition is the second in a series of mid-career retrospectives of leading Central Asian contemporary artists organised by Aspan Gallery. The first show Eternal Return was dedicated to Yerbossyn Meldibekov and was named by press as one of the most important cultural events in Kazakhstan for the last decade. The current show will be followed by retrospectives of Gulnara Kasmalieva and Muratbek Djumaliev, Said Atabekov, Almagul Menlibayeva and Vyacheslav Akhunov.

“The artists, whose monographic exhibitions we are planning to organsie at the Kasteev Museum are quite well-known abroad, but have seldom been shown in Kazakhstan. The majority have never had a solo show in their home-countries. In their work these artists are seeking to analyse the historical processes and explore identities and it is extremely important to show thei work here in Central Asia,” - Meruyert Kaliyeva, co-founder of Aspan Gallery.

Vorobyevs' exhibition The Artist is Asleep will run at the A. Kasteev Museum of Arts from 27 August until 27 September, 2015.