Past exhibition

In Honour of L.B.: Works by Lidiya Blinova and Rustam Khalfin

Aspan Gallery is pleased to present an exhibition dedicated to one of the founders of contemporary art in Central Asia Lidiya Blinova (1948-1996). To many, Blinova is only known as the partner and wife of a prominent Kazakhstani artist Rustam Khalfin (1949-2008). However a small group of friends and art lovers were acquainted with her artistic projects. She lived a very short life and the majority of her installations were ephemeral. Pursuing an artistic career was not one of her goals. Due to this, she was almost entirely indifferent to her finished works. The majority of her plastic searches were completed in pencil on small pieces of paper or through her actions and performances. In the Soviet conditions she was predominantly a non-conformist artist and mainly exhibited in ‘apartment’ exhibitions, co-organized with Khalfin. 

Blinova was a truly multidisciplinary artist. She was interested in architecture, poetry, sculpture, design, jewelry design and costume design. Despite the fact that only a small fraction of her work survived to today, her art has had an enormous influence on the development of contemporary art in Central Asia. For example, when she presented her installation Poem about a Learned Cat at the Kokserek Gallery in Almaty in 1995, she wrote the entire text of the poem on the perimeter walls of the gallery just slightly above the floor level, so that ‘cats could read it easily’. This was one of the first conceptual installations in Kazakhstani art. At the time the term ‘installation’ had not yet been used in Kazakhstan.

Her project Finger Ornament, in which she creates a series of ornaments using the palms of hands, was exhibited during her lifetime at the Kasteev Museum’s Gallery Parade in 1995, and posthumously at many international exhibitions, including …and Others in Bishkek (2004), Istanbul Biennale (2009), Between the Present and the Future: Archaeology of Contemporaneity at the Kasteev Museum in Almaty (2011), Eurasian Utopias: Post Scriptum in Suwon, Korea (2018).

In addition to these programmatic installations, the exhibition In Honour of L.B. also includes rare archival documents and drawings, which enable the visitor to sink deeper into Blinova’s universe. Most of these materials are being shown to the public for the first time. The show is accompanied by Rustam Khalfin’s installations, which are dedicated to his wife and ‘alter-ego’, as he used to call Blinova.

The exhibition was curated by famous Kazakhstani artist couple Yelena and Viktor Vorobyev. The installation remakes by the Vorobyevs are not intended as exact replicas of originals, but as visual guides to demonstrate Blinova’s thinking.

Specially for the exhibition Aspan Gallery has published a series of books. The first is Blinova’s Poem about a Learned Cat with illustrations by Yelena Vorobyeva. These illustrations were created during Blinova’s life, but the book has never been published. The second is a new book by prominent Russian artist and writer, Alexander Brener, dedicated to Blinova and Khalfin entitled, The Art of Life and the Art of Seeing. The third publication is the exhibition catalogue with works from the exhibition and art historical essays.

Lidiya Blinova (1948-1996, Almaty)

Lidiya Blinova graduated from the Architecture faculty of the Kazakh Polytech Institute in Almaty in 1971.She was also a poet, sculptor, jewellery designer, graphic designer. In the beginning of her career she studied under sculptor-primitivist Isaac Itkind, who was deported to Almaty. Together with her husband and partner artist Rustam Khalfin, Blinova organised ‘apartment’ exhibitions of Almaty non-official artists. She often developed her ideas together with Khalfin, who used to call her his ‘alter-ego’. 

After her death Blinova’s works were included in many national and international exhibitions, including Eurasian Utopias: Post Scriptum in Suwon, Korea (2018), Four Generations of Kazakh Women Artists, Momentum in Berlin (2018), Between the Present and the Future: Archaeology of Contemporaneity at the Kasteev Museum in Almaty (2011), Istanbul Biennale (2009), …and Others in Bishkek (2004).

Dates: 30 October - 15 December, 2019