Odesa boys. The beginning


Odesa boys. The beginning

…some mate of Vitya Salnikov’s
had an exhibition of critical realism
at his house. It was a movement
invented by Fedot and Lesha Kotsievsky…
…It was in the late ’70s, and early ’80s.
It was their own.
They even invented conceptualism on their own.
They showed some very strange works….

Sergei Anufriev
(from an interview with E.Godina.
“23/24.Odesa-Moscow, Moscow-Odesa.”
Project CSI-Odesa. 1997-98)

From 7 July to 7 August 2014, the Museum of Odesa Modern Art presents the research project “Odesa Boys. The Beginning”.

The starting point for Odesa conceptualism is considered to be 1982. It was then that Leonid Voitsekhov met with Sergei Anufriev, who soon “pulled” Yuri Leiderman, Igor Chatskin, the Peppers, and others. It was in that year that the formation of the “conceptualist group” began, the first round of winding was carried out, followed by subsequent rounds – and, as a result, all those whom we now consider being among the circle of Odesa conceptualists were “wound”. It was in the same year that Volodymyr Naumets’ landmark actions took place in Odesa and Moscow, with the involvement of Serhiy Anufriev, who was just beginning his career.

At the same time, in the memoirs of the direct participants of those events, we find numerous references to the period preceding 1982. They talk about the unrealized or lost works of Voitsekhov in the 70s, the “cretinous realism” of Volodymyr Fedorov (the future Fedot) and Oleksii Kotsievskyi, the works of Volodymyr Salnykov and Andrii Maryniuk in the late 70s and early 80s…
We decided to address this interesting and practically unknown to the general public stage in the development of Odesa art – the stage of spontaneous, “unconscious” search for a new artistic language, expressive forms and creative approaches. A stage when the newly discovered “Odesa boys”, who did not yet consider themselves artists, gave themselves the freedom to experiment and invent, knowing no limits.

Creativity was a part of their lifestyle, and they considered their works not so much as “works of art” as attributes of this style, a kind of “password for their own”. They worked freely in conditions of cultural isolation and constant pressure from the surrounding monolithic Soviet world. The world that made it impossible to exchange with the “outside” world, but at the same time, it encouraged them to develop their own means of intellectual survival in a hostile environment. Far from social pathos, welcoming and ironic in Odesa, untidy and childlike, and mixed with Odesa folklore, their work prepared the ground for the emergence and formation of the artistic phenomenon that we define today as “Odesa conceptualism”.
We turn to the beginning, to the origins of this phenomenon, to proto-conceptualism, leaving aside the rhetorical question: who invented this “Odesa conceptualism”?


The exhibition will feature works by Oleksii Kotsievskyi, Andrii Maryniuk, Volodymyr Salnykov, Volodymyr Fedorov of 1978-81, archival materials, video interviews…

The opening ceremony will take place on 07.07.2014 at 5 p.m. in the Museum of Odesa Modern Art at 5 Belinskoho St., Odesa.