Young Art Collectors Step Into Spotlight

MTSergei Popov, the gallery's art director, standing in front of Oleg Dou's work, "Red," a striking, digitally altered portrait that has been attracting attention.
The Russian art world has also been booming the last few years on the back of huge investment. But one group conspicuous by its absence has been young collectors.

The exhibition "Young Gallerist / Young Collectors" at the Pop/Off/Art Gallery aims to set this record straight. "This is the first time there has been a show of young collectors. Two years ago there were no young collectors of contemporary art in Russia. This is a really new situation," said Sergei Popov, the gallery's art director.

As Daria Zhukova, one of Russia's newest and most famous young gallerists, prepares to open her multimillion-ruble project next week, the show at Pop/Off/Art, a gallery that has been open for three years, brings together works collected by a number of young collectors, including the art director's three-month-old son.

"The next generation is open right now to collecting. They have money," Popov said.

The exhibition features paintings by many artists, including Dmitry Gutov and Oleg Dou -- at 25, the exhibition's youngest artist.

"Everyone was saying there are no young artists in Russia, but this year there was kind of a boom," Popov said.

Dou's work, "Red," sits in one of the most prominent places in the gallery.

The large work is a striking portrait of a woman that has been digitally altered to make it seem as if red paint were streaming off of her sideways at high speed -- as if a jet engine were drying her or she were being sucked, digitally, into a computer.

The diasec work -- a print glued to acrylic glass -- is valued at around 20,000 euros, although Popov said interest in the work had been high. "It might be worth more than that, especially since this picture was published on the cover of ArtChronika magazine."

Tucked behind a pillar are the less eye-catching, but more emotive works by Dmitry Gutov.

One of the larger paintings shows the bare, impressionistic outlines of a young frog floating in the water in matte green and blue colors. Down one side is the stenciled, dystopian story of a policeman being attacked by fighter planes in World War II and, near death, smiling when he sees the happy frog.

Gutov, 48, has taken part in shows across Europe, including the Venice Biennale and the Guggenheim Museum in New York.

"Gutov might be understood as the person who renovated Soviet ideas for today and with the help of this tradition makes a new type of image that connects the Soviet and the post-Soviet era," Popov said. "He is thinking of the way we can understand what happened during the Soviet period."

Young Gallerists / Young Collectors runs to Sept. 21 at the Pop/Off/Art Gallery, located at 6/4 Ulitsa Radio, entrance from Ulitsa Kazakova. Metro Kurskaya. Tel. 8-499-261-7883. www.popoffart.com