The Novosibirsk Biennale of Graphic Arts
The Graphic Arts Biennale has been held since 1999 in Novosibirsk, a major city in Siberia and a scientific, economic and cultural centre situated almost in the heart of Russia. The Biennale's main objective is to create a rich artistic context in Novosibirsk, and bring the authenticity of Siberian artistic life into a wider cultural process. In a relatively short time the Biennale has managed to make its mark not only in Siberia but also on a wider front in Russia and abroad. This year's Graphic Arts Biennale represented Russia at the oldest graphic arts forum in the world, the 26th Ljubljana Biennale of Graphic Arts (from June 24 to October 2, 2005). Now the Novosibirsk Biennale is opening again...
Eugenia GORTCHAKOVA. Big and Little. 2005
Digital print. 62 by 84 cm. Germany
The 4th Biennale of Graphic Arts (running from 23 September to 15 November 2005) takes place in the halls of the Novosibirsk State Museum of Fine Art and several independent galleries. It displays works by over 200 artists from 34 different countries. Apparently artists from Argentina, Brazil, Australia, Germany and France and many other countries are eager to participate in the event. Some are ready to travel thousands of miles to come to Novosibirsk. Russian artists are also widely displayed, drawn from as far away as St. Petersburg and Yakutsk, Moscow and Gorno-Altaisk.
Various institutions have become partners of the Biennale: the Goethe Institute, the Argentine Embassy in Russia, the Anton Chekhov Institute of San Paulo, Brazil, the Ibero-American Culture Festival, the Frans Masereel Center of Graphic Art (Belgium), the South Karelian Poly-professional Institute (Finland), the Tasmanian Ministry of Culture and Hobart City Hall from Australia, as well as many others. It should be mentioned that all the curators, volunteers and assistants work without financial compensation, and these partners also contribute to the implementation of the project.
The Biennale consists of competition and special non-competition programmes, the latter inviting previous Biennale laureates and famous graphic artists. The last Biennale, for instance, displayed works by Joseph Beuys, Georg Baselitz and Guenther Uecker: it acts a kind of reference point.
The competition section has three nominations: original graphic art, traditional printing technology and new printing technology. It is important to bear in mind the special wide understanding of the term "graphic art” in Russia. The Russian tradition divides graphic art into originals and prints. Original graphic art includes all types of drawings and what in many countries is called painting on paper: watercolors, gouache, ink, tempera, pastels, acrylic paint, and other forms. The material, namely paper, is the defining criterion.
The Novosibirsk Biennale of Graphic Art is characterized by an expanded view of such borders. The exhibition displays not only graphic sheets but graphic objects as well, with graphic video-art shown outside the competition. Thus the exhibition is entertaining and varied, both austere and professional as it demonstrates various forms of artistic perception, as well as national and regional flair. The Finns can't be confused with the Japanese, the Brazilians differ from the Canadians, while artists from St. Petersburg are nothing like artists from Moscow.
Fortunately, globalization - which unifies and spreads technology - has yet to oust the phenomenon of artistic creation. The expansion of the circle of curators helped create a polyphonic exhibition with no one dominant line of style. This Biennale is noted for a marked presence of digital graphic art which reflects the boom in the world of new printing technology.
A group of experts and curators worked on the artistic content of the exhibition. The first selected works for the "Open Competition” section, while the latter presented projects from various countries and regions. Among them were Alicia Candiani (Argentina), Ivonne and Beven Rees-Pague (Australia), Hans Knoll (Austria), Virle Rums (Belgium), Muratbek Dzhumaliev (Kyrgyzstan), Sean Caulfield (Canada), Arthur Ian (France), Paula Betther (Germany), Augusto Canto (Brazil), Katri Liatt and Elena Shipitsina (Finland-Swe- den), Yevgeniya Koloskova (Moscow), Olga Vlasova (St. Petersburg), Sergei Bryukhanov (the Urals) and Andrei Martynov (Japan).
The established structure of the Biennale as a whole consists of three sections: the open competition, the curators' projects, and the non-competitive programme, each complementing one another. Artists who don't fit into the conceptual framework of curators' projects can participate in the "Free Competition”. The non-competitive programme allows for the display of graphic works outside the context of competition and addresses the history of previous Biennales. This time it is compact, consisting of three small exhibitions displaying the work of laureates of the 3rd Biennale - Vladimir Martynov from Novosibirsk, Kerimbek Bukar (Akhmatov) from Kyrgyzstan and Alvaro Galindo Vacha from Columbia.
The works displayed in the open competition and the curators' projects make up the competition - though selection principles in the two are different, they have equal rights. What are the principles concerned? Within the curators' projects section the authors selected the works themselves, according to their own concepts and fancy. This is where the phenomenon of individual artistic perception can be manifested.
The "Free Competition” unites both authors who present their own works and those who have been selected. Almost a quarter of the participants of this section are from Poland. There are also some Americans, Japanese, Chinese, Koreans and others. The participation of artists from Central Asia and the Far East is typical for the Novosibirsk Biennale.
The space of artistic experience comes to be expanded, and an enigmatic feeling of invention, of something new is born. This sets such a live exhibition apart from other more pompous, stillborn events.
Digital print. 20 by 50 cm. Belgium
Drypoint.100 by 79 cm. Sweden
Digital print. 35 by 100 cm. Hungary
Digital print. 70 by 50 cm. Russia
Etching, aquatint. Argentina
Paper, mix. technique. 18 by 19 cm. Austria
Etching, aquatint. 27 by 49 cm. France