Contemporary art

You can't keep Marat down


Can't keep him down: Guelman

St Petersburg’s Fontanka.ru news site has posted photographs of graffiti that appeared on Wednesday at the Tkachi art space, threatening the cultural impresario Marat Guelman over his controversial “Icons” exhibition. When the show opened in St Petersburg last week to a surprising lack of protest, Guelman boasted in his blog about the calm reception—but that seems to have been short lived. Slogans splattered on Tkachi’s outer walls included “Guelman, you are a corpse,” and were signed simply “Cossacks”. The show includes art by nearly two dozen contemporary artists addressing religious themes, and many works resemble Russian Orthodox icons. Any mention of religion in contemporary art has become especially controversial in Russia since last year’s Pussy Riot trial over the feminist collective’s “punk prayer” at Moscow’s Christ the Savior Cathedral. Cossacks protested and a priest spat at Guelman when “Icons” opened in the Krasnodar region last spring. An attempt to show it in St Petersburg last October was called off by the Rizzordi Art Foundation. But, ever the optimist, Guelman has said the exhibition might form the basis of a new museum. — Sophia Kishkovsky

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