Exhibitions of the week: Gaiety Is the Most Outstanding Feature of the Soviet Union: New Art from Russia + Breaking the Ice: Moscow Art, Saatchi Gallery, London SW3

 

The story of art in Russia in the dying decades of the great communist experiment, and since, is the story behind these two shows.

Breaking the Ice surveys art coming out of Moscow from the 1960s onwards, art which dared not speak its name – and which got made all the same. Vladimir Veisberg painted as if communism was beyond his ken. Here also, gay and exhilarating, are the defiant products of the Sotsart movement and the extraordinarily mocking work of Vitaly Komar and Alexander Melamid.

In the downstairs galleries, a survey brings together work by 18 painters, photographers, sculptors and installation artists. Here, the humour is baleful, mindful that no creative life in Russia is untrammelled by the communist experiment and its aftermath. Boris Mikhailov, Valery Koshlyakov and Janis Avotins are among the highlights.

(saatchi-gallery.co.uk) Gaiety, to 5 May; Ice, to 24 Feb

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