Conceived by Alexey Ananiev
Curated by Nadezhda Stepanova and Matteo Lafranconi
Organised by the Azienda Speciale Palaexpo in conjunction with the Institute of Russian Realist Art in Moscow, Russia on the Road (1920–1990) showcases some sixty paintings both from the institute's own collection and from some of the country's leading museums such as the State Tretyakov gallery and the State Russian Museum. The exhibition explores almost a century of Russian art coinciding primarily with the Soviet era, an era in which men endeavoured to turn their utopias into reality and reality into a legend. Adopting a thematic approach, the exhibition tells the story of how modern means of transport suddenly erupted onto the scene in the everyday life of the Russian people. Symbolising progress and man's unprecedented dominion over the vast space that is continental Russia, machines and machinery also invaded the collective imagination of the country's artists. Planes, boats, trains and cars but also motorways, railways, ports and underground stations became subjects considered as worthy of interest and as "noble" as the human figure or the landscape, entering the space of artistic portrayal in their capacity as positive symbols of man's contemporary condition.
The exhibits on display offer a very diverse picture of the different artists' approach to the technical and the technological, an approachy which varied widely both in form and in atmosphere as times changed. On the one hand heavily ideological works celebrate the new legends as symbols of change, while on the other, more intimate poetic works mark their distance from the stern bonds of propaganda.
In addition to showcasing some of the most celebrated masterpieces of Aleksandr Deyneka, Yuri Pimenov and Georgy Nissky from the best-known period of Soviet art (stretching from the 1920s to the 1950s), the exhibition also allows visitors to admire a selection of less well-known yet surprising works from the 1960s to the 1990s that betray interaction with contemporary artistic trends in Europe, such as Italian Neo-Realism or the French Nouvelle Vague. Long hidden behind the "Iron Curtain", this art – now displayed in some of Europe's most important museums and galleries – allows us to take a decidedly new look at the history of Russian art.