A guide to the New East


Russian fashion collective Nina Donis publishes new lookbook

6 January 2014 · Moscow
Share on LinkedIn Share via Email

Russian fashion collective Nina Donis has released its Autumn-Winter lookbook, a collection of clothing inspired by a diverse range of influences that include Eighties bands such as New Order and Depeche Mode, Scandinavian knitwear, British band The xx and Tatiana Mavrina’s illustrations of Pushkin’s fairytales. The Moscow-based duo Nina Neretina and Donis Pupis launched their label 14 years ago and are widely considered to be pioneers of experimental minimalist design in Russia. 

Russian designer Gosha Rubchinskiy reimagines Old Skool Vans

3 January 2014
Share on LinkedIn Share via Email

Russian streetwear designer Gosha Rubchinskiy has teamed up with Vans to create a new pair of Old Skool trainers for the skate shoe brand. The black leather shoes, which can be yours for €188, come with suede toe caps, reflective laces and Vans’ signature white stripes. Rubchinskiy, who has been backed by Comme des Garçons over the past couple of years, is no stranger to high-profile collaborations.

Viktor Popkov to have first UK exhibition in 2014

3 January 2014
Share on LinkedIn Share via Email
At the Weekend (1958) by Viktor Popkov

Soviet realist artist Viktor Popkov will have his first UK exhibition at London’s Somerset House later this year. The exhibition will comprise around 40 paintings by the artist, including his most famous canvas Summer, July (1969). Billionaire art collector Andrey Filatov set an auction record for Popkov in 2010 when he bought the painting from Sotheby’s in New York for $842,500. Filatov has described Popkov as “the Dostoevsky of art” despite the fact that he is little known outside of Russia.

Popkov was one of the most celebrated artists in the Soviet Union. As an artist, he went through several different stylistic periods from socialist realism in the Fifties, to the austere style he helped create in the Sixties, to a more romantic phase later on. He was accidentally shot and killed in a tragic incident in Moscow in 1974. The exhibition will run at Somerset House from 20 May to 24 June 2014.

Pussy Riot’s Tolokonnikova models for Russian fashion website

2 January 2014 · Moscow
Share on LinkedIn Share via Email

Barely 10 days out of prison and Nadia Tolokonnikova has been modelling for Trends Brands, an online fashion store that donated clothing to the Pussy Riot member when she was behind bars. In a photo shoot posted on the Trends Brands website, Tolokonnikova can be seen wearing items from American Apparel and Guess, two of the labels sold by the online shop. Posting on her Facebook page, Tolokonnikova explained that she decided to model for "her capitalist friends" at Trends Brands as a way of thanking them for the clothes they donated to her via when she was in prison. 

Tolokonnikova was freed on 23 December under a state amnesty law that also saw Maria Alyokhina, the second jailed member of Pussy Riot, and oil tycoon-turned-opposition figurehead Mikhail Khodorkovsky released. Charges of hooliganism against the 30 Greenpeace activists arrested have also been dropped. Following their release, both Tolokonnikova and Alyokhina slammed the amnesty as a publicity stunt in the lead-up to the Winter Olympics in Russian city of Sochi in February. The pair were imprisoned for hooliganism motivated by religious hatred after performing an anti-Kremlin punk prayer in a Moscow cathedral in early 2012. 

London meets Moscow in new ice-breaking exhibition

2 January 2014 · Moscow
Share on LinkedIn Share via Email
  • Four Times Basquiat on Sprite (2011) by Pakpoom Silaphan

  • PVC Circus (2012) by Sally Fuerst

  • Hands of God (2013) by Chris Bracey

A London gallery owned by Jamie and Tyrone Wood, sons of Rolling Stone Ronnie Wood, has curated an exhibition of British artists for Moscow’s RuArts Gallery in celebration of the latter’s ten-year anniversary. Breaking the Ice, by London's Scream gallery, features artists such as Chris Bracey, who is also known as the Neon Man for his extensive use of neon lights. Over his decades-long career, Bracey has created iconic artworks for the likes of David LaChappelle and Stella McCartney.

Also included in the show is the work of Taiwanese-Japanese duo Hsiao-Chi Tsai and Kimiya Yoshikawa whose extraordinary pieces marry materials such as neoprene, acrylics and UV paint with lighting and installation. Their sculptures resemble psychedelic flowers that are both beautiful and grotesque, and seductive and unsettling. The exhibition will run at RuArts Gallery in Moscow until 18 January. 

Irish firm wins bid to design new Moscow super museum

24 December 2013 · Moscow
Share on LinkedIn Share via Email
Heneghan Peng Architects’ winning design for the NCCA

Irish architectural firm Heneghan Peng Architects has won the international competition to build Moscow’s new super museum with a design that comprises a series of stacked gallery spaces. Their proposal allows visitors to the new National Centre for Contemporary Arts to go directly to one of the exhibition spaces instead of making their way up through the building. 

Heneghan Peng’s portfolio includes two bridges at the centre of London’s Olympic Park, a library for the University of Greenwich, the extension and refurbishment of the National Gallery Ireland, and the development of Giant’s Causeway Visitor in Northern Ireland, which has been shortlisted for the prestigious 2013 RIBA Stirling Prize.

The firm was selected from a shortlist of three companies that included Moscow’s MEL Space and Madrid’s Nieto Sobejano Arquitectos to design a new building for the National Centre for Contemporary Arts. As well as exhibitions, the new space will host lectures, conferences, concerts and performances. The competition was launched in June 2013 and ran for six months. More than 900 submissions were received including entries from high-profile architectural bureaus such as Zaha Hadid and OMA. 

The new museum is expected to become a hub for contemporary art in Moscow with a capacity for around 500,000 visitors a year. The museum will be built on an old airfield in Khodynskoye Pole in north-west Moscow along with several hotel and office complexes, a new metro station and a shopping centre.

Italian exhibition explores impact of travel on Russian avant-garde

23 December 2013
Share on LinkedIn Share via Email
  • White Oval by Wassily Kandinsky (1919)

  • Chinese Lubok by Natalia Goncharova (

  • Black Circle by Kazimir Malevich (1915)

  • Portrait of a Woman on an Armchair by Ilya Mashkov (1913)

A new exhibition in Florence explores the impact of travel between the Far East and the Soviet Union on avant-garde art in the early 20th century. The Russian Avant-garde, Siberia and the East looks at the avant-garde artists who experimented with exotic elements in their artwork at a time when merchants and explorers were returning to the Soviet Union with objects from eastern countries. 

A clear example of this are Léon Bakst’s costume and set design for the Ballet Russes, which paid homage to statues of Shiva and to Buddhist temples. Artists Vasily Kandinsky, Igor Larionov and Vasily Vatagin all studied shamanistic and Hindu rituals, making reference to them in their paintings and sculptures. 

The exhibition features more than 130 artworks including original Oriental objects from high-profile artists such as Kazimir Malevich, Natalya Goncharova and Pavel Filonov as well as lesser known figures such as Nikolai Kalmakov and Sergei Konenkov, many of whom are being exhibited in the west for the first time. Highlights include Malevich’s Black Circle (1915), which followed his famous Black Square, and Goncharova’s Emptiness (1913), a study on nothingness, an interest shared by many avant-garde artists. The Russian Avant-garde, Siberia and the East runs at Palazzo Strozzi in Florence until 19 January 2014. 

Russian fashion designer Panika Derevya unveils new collection

23 December 2013 · Moscow
Share on LinkedIn Share via Email

Moscow-based fashion designer Panika Derevya has launched her new collection, Intangible, a combination of minimalist design and natural textures such as silk and wool. The lookbook was shot in a high-rise in  Guangzhou and later presented at the Chinese city’s fashion week in August. “It was raining the whole week so we were just hanging out together waiting for the sun,” said Derevya of the shoot. “The collection was inspired by the harmony of contrasts: a powerful spirit inside a fragile look. It seeks to show profoundness in simplicity and reveal the intangible in everyday routine.”

“Unknown heroes” of Russian culture recognised at prize ceremony

20 December 2013
Share on LinkedIn Share via Email

The first winners of a new competition to find the "unknown heroes" of contemporary Russian society were announced at a ceremony in Moscow last week. The Civil Initiatives awards seek to discover the people and projects working towards creating a better Russia. In all, 12 categories, covering everything from culture and art to public health and animal welfare are awarded, voted for by the public online. 

The Spiritual Legacy category, which covers art, culture, education and science, was awarded to Living Classics, an international competition aimed at promoting reading among children. In 2013, 2.5 million children aged 11-12 from Russian speaking countries entered the competition which involves reciting passages from their favourite literary works. The organisations also supports initiatives aimed at improving library provision and the promotion of the Russian language and literature abroad.

The competition was launched by the Committee for Civil Initiatives, a think tank set up in April 2012 by Alexei Kudrin, the current dean of the Faculty of Liberal Arts and Sciences at St Petersburg University and trustee of the Calvert 22 Foundation. 

Damien Hirst’s private collection goes on show in Moscow

20 December 2013 · Moscow
Share on LinkedIn Share via Email
You Will Never Forget Me, Colin Lowe (2007)

A Jeff Koons glass elephant and a Bansky screenprint are just two of the artworks from Damien Hirst’s private collection that have gone on show at Moscow’s Multimedia Art Museum. Freedom Not Genius runs until 2 February 2014 and features works from the Hirst’s Murderme collection, a selection of pieces from his British contemporaries as well as classics of modernism and pop art, and other curios. 

Show more