Ilya and Emilia Kabakov

“Ilya and Emilia Kabakov are amongst the most celebrated artists of their generation, widely known as pioneers of installation art” (Tate). Their artwork reflects on the Soviet Union regime that they were taught from a young age, and the officially approved style of Socialist Realism. Ilya supported himself as a children’s book illustrator from 1955 to 1987, only showing his artworks to a select few.
Ilya and Emilia met through their artwork and studies. After keeping in contact, they began working together in the late 1980’s, and became married in 1992. Their artwork combined together are immersive installations and look at the themes and ideas of utopia, dreams and fear. This has been said to “reflect on the universal human condition” (Tate).
Much of the works take on aspects from post-expressionism to abstraction, and I found that the paintings could almost verge on destructivism. This can be reflected in the use of materials, which were often plywood or Masonite, which is often used as floorboards, as well as other cheap materials.
While in the exhibition, I found many of the works to be captivating, due to this difference in materials compared to more ‘traditional’ materials. The use of forced perspective was also found in many pieces, an especially obvious in the installations. Within the majority of the installations, they would swallow an entire room. With many different elements to each of this, I found myself drawn in by individual details, but not necessarily the entire installation. Each of the paintings were also beautiful in the way that they would be giving you an insight into another world, through portholes in the first world. This did make some of the images very confusing, however, as I was not able to understand what was happening in each of these layers.


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