GRISHA BRUSKIN. ALEFBET: ALPHABET OF MEMORY For his first exhibition in Venice, Grisha Bruskin, one of the great living Russian artists, with an international reputation dating at least from the mid 1980s, has chosen
the project “Alefbet”: a mysterious alphabet composed of 160 characters: angels, demons, men…
The stunning visual impact of “Alefbet” cannot fail to fascinate, accompany and draw the viewers through a series of original multimedia apparatuses.
At the heart of the exhibition are five large tapestries (2,80 x 2,10). These, however, can be reached only after examining the preparatory drawings, gouaches, and six
extraordinary paintings that articulate the successive stages of this complex and fascinating “archive of the sign”.
Grisha Bruskin (Grigory Davidovich Bruskin) was born in Moscow in 1945. At the end of the 1950s, Bruskin found in the Jewish tradition an entirely new subject, at a time when Soviet society and art were categorically alien to any form of Jewish everyday life and cult. Bruskin’s discovery of that culture happened by a sideway path: he did come from a Jewish family of scientists, but quite detached from religious issues. His awareness of being Jewish emerged through the books and storiesof his relatives. The configuration of that experience is therefore that of an archaeological “reconstruction” that led him to achieve a highly personal and original style, where the fragments of a past lost and found seem to emerge, at least in a first stage, from a kind of pictorial fairy-tale Carnival, rich in allegorical, symbolic, but also surrealist themes.
In the 1980s, his work went through a considerable change, one could even say a rift, as Bruskin started associating with the main exponents of Sots-Art: Prigov, Orlov, and Lebedev.
His style evolved from a slightly ornamental primitivism to a concise manner that evoked the graphics of Soviet Posters. Bruskin’s interest in Soviet ideological products certainly came from his contacts with Sots-Artists. However, while Orlov looked at the regime’s monumental aesthetics, Bruskin was attracted to the more modest statues of the pionery (Soviet boy-scouts), soldiers, and workers decorating the façades and parks under the Stalinist regime. The Jewish theme, however, was not forgotten, but remained parallel to the Soviet one.
His first personal exhibitions in 1983 and 1984, were closed a few days after the opening by order of the Communist Party. His first non-censored exhibition, The artist and modernity, was opened to the public in 1987 in Moscow. Here was displayed his Fundamental’nyj leksikon (1986), a kind of Bruskinian grammar containing the origins and synthesis of his language.
With his clear-cut language and delicate paintings, Bruskin became on that occasion the most important artist of the perestroika.
This episode was crucial: part of the artwork was bought by the famous director Milos Forman, who had been
officially invited by Gorbachev. This marked the end of the ban on the exhibition of non-official art in the USSR. A year later, Fundamental’nyj leksikon played again a key role in the Russian art market. At a landmark Sotheby’s auction, the work was sold for 200.000 GBP.  It was the start of the Russian “boom”: Bruskin moved to New York, and started increasing the format of the figures of his Fundamental’nyj leksikon, which evolved into monumental sculptures, but later also into porcelain figures and finally into tapestries.
The project “Alefbet” constitutes an essential part of Bruskin’s long and complex macrotext. This highly condensed synthesis draws on the thousand-years-old Jewish tradition of the Talmud and Kabbalah, presented as a possible and permanent interpretation key of our own history and present. A “sewn up”, textured alphabet. An archive turned into a text.
Today, Bruskin lives and works between Moscow and New York.

The exhibition, in collaboration with the Centre of Studies of Russian Art (CSAR) at Ca’ Foscari University of Venice, is curated by Giuseppe Barbieri and Silvia Burini.
The catalogue, published by Terra Ferma, features essays by Evgenij Barabanov, Giuseppe Barbieri, Grisha Bruskin, Silvia Burini, Boris Groys, and Michail
Multimedia apparatuses designed in collaboration with Marco Barsottini from CamerAnebbia-Milan.
Exhibition venue: Fondazione Querini Stampalia, Venezia, Campo Santa Maria Formosa,
Castello 5252
Dates: from February 12 to September 13, 2015
Open to the public from Tuesday to Sunday from 10 am to 6 pm.
Closed on Monday.
Free entrance, after withdrawal of the free ticket at the ticket office of the Foundation.
  • Fondazione Querini Stampalia, S. Maria Formosa, Castello 5252
    Venezia (VE)


The Fondazione Querini Stampalia hosts a Library open until midnight and on holidays, and a Museum where furniture and works of art from the 14th to the 20th centuries convey the atmosphere of a patrician residence.
On the ground floor of the sixteenth-century building there are the area restored in 1963 by Carlo Scarpa and the recent work of Mario Botta which make visible the profound renewal of the Foundation.
A unique set that offers functional spaces for cultural and special events.

Poslovni kontakti
S. Maria Formosa, Castello 5252
30122 - Venezia (VE)
Dodatne informacije
Palazzo Querini Stampalia, a few steps from Piazza San Marco, is considered one of the most interesting architectures in Venice.
Its history is linked to the Querini family, and particularly to his last descendant, Count Giovanni, who in 1868 bequeathed to the city of Venice the entire family assets: real estate and personal properties, books and art collections, all for public use.
In his will, he determines, for this purpose, the creation of an institution capable to promote "the cult of fine studies and useful disciplines" and open as much as possible, but especially when the other cultural institutions are closed.
In 1869, after his death, the palace became the seat of the Foundation, where a library, a museum and an area for temporary exhibitions are set up.
The Library has general topics and makes available to the public more than 350,000 volumes, of which 32,000 are directly accessible in the reading rooms, which are open until late at night and even on holidays. The oldest part of its collections consists of manuscripts, incunabula and 16th-century editions, ancient atlases and maps, which together with the family archives provide valuable historical documents to the scholars.

On the second floor the House-Museum, with the 18th century and neoclassical furniture, porcelain, biscuits, sculptures, globes and paintings from the 14th to the 20th centuries, conveys the atmosphere of a patrician residence with its mirrors and Murano glass chandeliers and fabrics woven on antique patterns. A journey through the history of Venetian art from the Renaissance of Giovanni Bellini to the Settecento of Giambattista Tiepolo, Pietro Longhi, Gabriel Bella.

The architectures of Carlo Scarpa, Valeriano Pastor and Mario Botta are the most visible signs of the contemporary approach to the 16th-century palace, where the comparison between different languages and the contamination between the different art forms are routinely sought in the events proposed to the public.
Carlo Scarpa achieves from 1959 to 1963 the well known restoration of the ground floor, which is based on a measured combination of modern and antique features and on a great skill in using materials typical to the Venetian tradition. Scarpa designed the bridge and the entrance, with the barriers of defense against the high tide, the noble staircase to the first floor, the portego and the garden.
From1982 to 1997 Valeriano Pastor designed works of consolidation and general reorganization of the building, but also specific interventions. The attention to the details of a door, or of a covered walkway, is the assimilation of Carlo Scarpa's example, revisited and returned in an original way. The pivot of this reorganization is the vertical connection housed in the space of a 19th-century staircase no longer in use. Pastor's achitectural insert gives the necessary unity to the articulated system of the Foundation.
The Italian-Swiss architect Mario Botta designed the new service area around a beautiful indoor court on which the Cafeteria and the Bookshop windows overlook. The Court also leads to the Auditorium, that completes this unique, complex and flexible place where ancient rooms next to modern spaces provide a stimulating setting for individual study and cultural initiatives.

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