Natasha Akhmerova Gallery
PROMENADENGASSE 19   CH-8001 ZURICH   +41 (44) 280 45 45


The Improbability of Art: Edith Kramer and Artem Mirolevich

At first glance this exhibition forms an improbable coupling between two artists: Artem

Mirolevich and Edith Kramer, each from vastly different backgrounds divided by a

generational gap that seems virtually irreconcilable. Yet as the tenets of Post-Modernism

have taught us, such an dynamic pairing might inform the viewer not only as to the

respective aesthetic of the artists, but put into contextual relationship the universality of

all artistic expression. Elucidating these artists’ identities relies not so much upon

assembling a cohesive body of work that follows any linear chronology, style or

influence. Nor does their coupling seek to draw upon any one dominant narrative of allencompassing meaning. Forging its own identity, Natasha Akhmerova has cut across the grain of current aesthetic fad or theory—which in and of itself, is fresh and courageous. Rather

than seeking obvious points of conceptual reference, the exhibition challenges the viewer

with an ill-fitting jig-saw, comprised of disparate fragments—each of which frames each

artist’s mitvelt or world experience. Thus in this exhibit the fanciful surrealism that

permeates the work of the young Russian Mirolevich can forcefully co-exist with the

social-realist austerity of the elder Austrian Kramer—as each demonstrates deft technical

prowess, stylistic sophistication, a respect for material and a sense of artistic integrity that

is perhaps rare in contemporary art. Mirolevich’s work at first might appear escapist, as

images sail away in fantastic other-worldly voyages, seemingly unaffected by the current

threat of global calamity. Yet planted within these fantasies there are darker elements,

suggesting a well digested sense of anxiety and angst—such as the colossal sharks that

prowl above the city sky. His architecturally rendered figure stands monumentally

revealing only its legs and feet, perhaps referencing the frightening iconography of his

culture’s totalitarian past. Kramer in turn, takes a hard-bitten look at whatever she sees

around her—subordinating any personal expressive imagination to that of astute

perception. Her life-drawn machinists were sketched after her own shift of working as the

men’s assistant, feeling it a duty to record their toiling in anonymity during the Second

World War. There is a sense of her testifying to the non-combatant laborers’ contributions

to the war effort. Yet these quick contour sketches are not mere documentation but also

register an undercurrent of dread, as the world at that time, as it does now, teetered on the

threat of mass-destruction. All tolled, both artists face the truths ingrained in their subject

matter: Should her workers’ exhaustive efforts fall short, should Mirolevich’s sharks

overcome the populace, the world might well collapse into unimaginable chaos. There is

perhaps a link between these artists’ relationship to the European Jewish Diaspora where

over decades millions of their ancestors suffered in the shadows of repression and

intolerance. The common heritages of pogroms inevitably remain an ever-present force.

Thus one might conceive in the art of both artists, a collective up-rush of psychic relief.

Each has celebrated the freedom to express in their art, a shared sense of both the beauty

and the horrors of our world—all within the relative security and progressive tolerance of

urban New York City. This then is what we celebrate in bringing these two special artists

together—that history, culture, personal experience can all survive and flourish, co-exist

side by side, at once seemingly unrelated, yet in the end, powerfully connected.

Text by David Henley

20 October 2010