This site-specific intervention was arranged as part of the ART OF LIVING AT HOME initiative started by Pushkin Fine Arts Museum.

Alexandra Gart’s project PLAYING THE CLASSIC is a dedication to Nikolay Nekrasov’s interest in card games. Works created by the contemporary artist are integrated into the permanent exposition presented in the apartment museum where the widely known poet lived. These pieces mimic classic objects present within this memorial space and invite the viewers to play a visual game – and to search for the things that don’t belong there.

Nikolay Nekrasov is known to be a fan of card games. His luck and skills were legendary, and the gaming table in his apartment was rarely unused. Alexander Skabichevsky, a contemporary of Nekrasov, said, ‘Just like Nekrasov introduced some of his gaming passion into the publishing business, he never lost his temper during a card game. He would always ponder his chances to win and to lose cold-bloodedly, as a skillful mathematician.’ Various high-rank people, writers, and cultural workers came to the poet for a game of cards. Nekrasov described his hobby both in verse and in prose. For example, his PREFERENCE AND THE SUN satiric vaudeville is a literary praise of this game.

Alexandra Gart made three series of objects that refer to gaming formats in art. The key piece of the apartment museum exposition is 4D, a poker chart developed by writer and mathematician Roman Mikhailov. It has a 4D sphere ciphered in it, where the 4th dimension stands for memory. Located in the room where the card matches took place, at first the poker chart seems to refer to the game itself. However, at the same time it is a symbol of a new conceptual layer which appears in the premises of the memorial museum right as contemporary art makes its entry.

In Avdotya Panayeva’s room, Alexandra Gart invites the most interested audience to distinguish between a contemporary art piece and a memorial piece that belongs to the permanent exposition. In the woman’s room, the artist located her works, which are fabric tissues with embroidered poker charts. Thanks to the traditional medium and the soft hues, these pieces perfectly fit into the interior, while their plot and shape don’t match either the time or the location, which causes a contextual discord.

As an extension of the visual game that the viewers are invited to take part in, Alexandra created her final series of PLAYING THE CLASSIC, which can make one think of the pastime fancied by disinterested school children – scrawling in textbooks. Engravings dating back to the 19th century refer to Nekrasov’s life and writing. The image featuring a Russian peasant got lots of hares. Kado, the English Pointer, the dog that Nekrasov loved so much and that died in a stupid accident on a hunt is painted out black. Peasants returning from a field became a crowd of zombies Nekrasov described in the phantasmagoric scene of his Railway, and so on, and so forth. On the table where Nikolay Nekrasov would often meet his friends to talk about the writing and editorial business, there is a large graphic image that features a railway as a symbol of the poet’s ideas, a hard life, and inevitability of fate. This project is a new take on the writer’s person and milestone events in his life seen through the prism of time and the artistic reconsideration offered by the artist.


April 25 through June 30, 2024

May 20, 2024
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