- Title: RUSSIA-KANDINSKY PRIZE Political art wins Russia's top contemporary art prize
- Date: 12th December 2014
- Summary: MOSCOW, RUSSIA (FILE) (REUTERS) VARIOUS OF PAVEL PEPPERSHTEIN'S WATERCOLOURS WORK 'HOLY POLITICS'
- Embargoed: 27th December 2014 12:00
- Topics: General
- Reuters ID: LVAA2TESTMUEVJSCAJ90VB7SNH3C
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- Story Text: A set of paintings and watercolours depicting a childlike understanding of Russia's current political landscape took the top contemporary arts prize in Moscow on Thursday (December 11) night at the annual Kandinsky Prize awards ceremony.
Russian and international artists and contemporary art enthusiasts gathered to celebrate finalists in categories including scholarly work and theory in contemporary art and the best young artist, but the prize's project of the year drew attention for its political tone.
Artist Pavel Peppershtein's "Holy Politics", shows colourful scenes of child surrounded by war toys, or a serene face with a caption underneath reading "Internet is bad, but nuclear weapons are good".
Vladimir Ovcherenko, a Russian gallery owner who received the award on Peppershtein's behalf, said the artist's work challenged the country's status quo.
"This is a case - now a rare one - when art can really compete with some powerful political changes in the country. And that's the case when art, I think, wins," Ovcherenko said.
Rights activists in Russia have accused President Vladimir Putin of stifling political dissent though new laws including those controlling media and increased penalties for participating in anti-government protests.
Prize trustees chairman Shalva Breus said politics arose as an organic theme in this year's winner, but nominees were unbridled by any preconditions for art.
"I think that way this exhibit differs from those in the past is characterised by freedom. If before, last year artists were attracted by political discourse, it was in the air, they were inhaling it and then producing their works. Two years ago, artists wanted to talk about some kinds of big themes, to show how they were interested in them: goodness, evil, love, hate, life, death. But this year it's absolute freedom, that is, no external discourse is influencing artists," Breus said.
"And, unlike other spheres of activity, it doesn't have any obstacles, limits or bans. Our art infiltrates everywhere, and that's very important," he added.
Peppershtein will receive a prize worth 40,000 euros. Young artist of the year winner, Albert Soldatov took a prize worth 10,000 euros, and Mihail Yampolskii, who won in the scholarly work competition will have his entry published by the Breus Foundation for his award.
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