Following last year’s smoke-filled summer, more Russians have started looking for a way to make the city more eco-friendly. Some are trying to go green with the help of art.
The "Organica" art exhibit at the Solyanka Gallery is offering a glimpse of just how popular nature is becoming in homes in the country's capital.
Curator Tanya Paleeva dreamt it up after a summer spent in the choking smoke, thick heat and dense traffic of Moscow
“I decided to be, probably, the first to put this on the table and to name the project “Organika,” giving a Russian ending to the greening of culture, which yet did not start in Moscow,” Tanya Paleeva, curator of the exhibition, told RT. “The safety of the water, safety of the air are very pressing issues in Moscow. Still, galleries are not actually participating in this. All over Europe, in the States, these issues are already on the agenda.”
The City Duma's Ecology Committee agrees: if pretty and quirky works of art can change people's minds, then so be it.
“Even the best eco laws aren’t enough to change things,” Vera Stepanenko, from the Eco Committee of the Moscow City Duma, told RT. “As the Russian saying goes, "It’s better to see one time than to hear hundreds of times.’ That’s why exhibitions like this are important.”
The aim of the Organika exhibit is not just to showcase nature, it is also about the individual materials used by these innovative artists and where they were when the pieces were created.
German artist Hans Mendler uses the resources around his home in the Hungarian countryside.
“I peel it and then I put it into my studio in the backyard where I’m working and I let it stay there for two or three days. I just try to get a connection with the piece of wood,” sculptor Hans Mendler told RT. “Then comes the idea that I will try to make a girl with a skirt, for example.”
“The classical material is oak tree,” Mendler said. “I have friends that are working in the forest, and I buy my oak trees. So two metres, sixty centimeter pieces of wood are lying in the garden and waiting until I can do something with them.”
Mendler told RT that often his neighbors chop a tree they love and do not want to part with. Then the tree becomes a gift for him.
“After some years they come and say, “Hello Mr Mendler, what did you do out of my tree?’ And I say, “Look! Look! Here it is.’”
If Mendler does not like the sculpture he is working on, it becomes fodder for the fire in his studio. Taking nature, turning it into art, and then into renewable energy.
His art represents something Paleeva's artists have in common, the curator believes.
“The origin of their art is nature itself because they are surrounded by nature,” Paleeva said. “If, probably, they lived in Moscow maybe they would be doing something else. But they are surrounded by nature, so they want to preserve it, to keep it for their children.”
Once painters sat in a client's garden, paint a simple flower for days, and put it on their wall, reminding them of what is just outside their front door. He has done this for twenty years.
“I hope to see more eco minded people come out of this. You might have some new kind of feeling about the world, you might want to take care it and not just yourself,” Vera Stepanenko from the Eco Committee of Moscow, told RT. “You might not want to be aggressive, want to be compassionate – that’s the main task of this exhibition, the educational one.”
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