Michael Ioffe: Walking on Mind Fields and Mikhail Magaril:Works on Paper

The Museum of Russian Art (MoRa) presents a group show titled Michael Ioffe:Walking on Mind Fields and Mikhail Magaril: Works on Paper.

The Museum of Russian Art (MoRa), NJ in collaboration with Kolodzei Art Foundation, presents Michael Ioffe: Walking on Mind-Fields, a comprehensive exhibition of the New –York based, Belorussia – born artist.  Walking on Mind-Fields represents Ioffe`s equal mastery in sculpture, oil paintings and works on paper. The show includes sculptures from the artist`s series Geometry and Eros (2011-2012). The series consists of elemental primitive black and orange forms symbolizing the erotic tension between sexes. A successor of Paul Cezanne in sculpture, Ioffe enhances the archetype, producing works of unique sensual intensity. Included in the exhibition is the series Thirst (2008-2009  self drying clay, acrylic paint), a set of various tea cups of off-white shades in various stage of decomposition, representing the unfulfilled longing for completion.

From the series Geometry and Eros (2011- 2012) by Michael Ioffe

Walking on the Mind fields features sixteen works on paper that, according to the artist, constitute the foundation of his oeuvre. Most of these works are produced in a single sitting and without a preconceived subject-matter that appears spontaneously as though inspired by Surrealist automatism. “After Bigfoot” (2010) is a perfect example of the artist`s free-hand technique, where the abstract forms gradually take shape of an elusive Himalayan creature and its stupefied admirers. In “After Breugel” (2011), Ioffe revisits “The Parable of the Blind”, a renowned tempera painting by the great Flemish Renaissance artist. Departing from the highly descriptive detailed original, Ioffe creates his own parable, where several rough figures staring aimlessly into the space stand to represent the vice of indifference and its dire consequences.

View of the drawings on display

“After Breugel” by Michael Ioffe

Ioffe`s acrylic compositions are brilliantly colored large-scale tableaux, densely populated by hybrid and grotesque creatures, that are created in the spontaneous vein, similar to the artist`s works on paper. “Fire Dance” (2008) brimming with dynamism, motion and speed might remind the viewer of the unbridled passion of Futuristic paintings. In “My Pet-Iron Cow” (2012), a phantasmagoric armored domestic animal and an android – looking being are engaged in a whimsical dance, perhaps symbolizing a dream of a loyal hard-working companion of a human endeavor.

“My Pet – Iron Cow” by Michael Ioffe

Born in 1959 in Belarus, Michael Ioffe received his MFA from Byelorussian Polytechnic School of Architecture in Minsk. Before relocating to the United States in 1989, Michael earned his living as a graphic designer. Michael`s graphic design was featured in The New York Times and The New York City Journal. The artist works and lives in New York.

The show at MoRa includes works by  St. Petersburg born and New York -based artist Mikhail Magaril. This comprehensive exhibit covers Magaril`s versatile output of the last three decades and showcases the best examples of the artist’s subtle humorous rendering of the current political landscape and its historical underpinnings.  For years, Magaril`s invariable motto has been the renowned wisdom by King Solomon “I would like to make sad people joyful, and joyful people sad”. In the attempt to change his viewers prospective, Magaril engages into a playful interaction with the Soviet and the Post-Soviet paraphernalia. From the delicate exposure of the fallacies of the socialist system, the artist now turns his attention to Russia`s present undertaking in rectifying its historic fatality. Cautiously critical, Magaril`s outlook remains consistent in its sympathetic and understanding quality.

Smoking is Bad for your Health (diptych, oil on wood 1999) by Mikhail Magaril

The show features “Perestroika”(Stitching the Black Hole), oil on canvas, 1987,a semiabstract composition of two parallel black panels covering the historic period from 1917, the year of the October Bolshevik revolt , to 1986, the beginning  of Perestroika and  the year of Chernobyl nuclear explosion. According to the artist, the 1986 tear, involving a major man-made catastrophe, is a much more formidable one.

Perestroika”(Stitching the Black Hole), oil on canvas, 1987 by Mikhail Magaril


Smoking is Bad for your Health (diptych, oil on wood 1999) , see image aboveis a derisive commentary on the hypocritical nature of the Soviet propaganda. Vladimir Lenin, frivolously smoking a cigarette, defies the laws of health preservation coined by the Soviet Ministry of Health: Smoking is Bad for Your Health. Vladimir Lenin, the initiator of the 1917 Bolshevik revolt in Russia, is known to have never smoked. The only publicly known health problems that he had were the bullet injury reminiscent of the assassination attempt and a series of strokes. Cause of Lenin’s death remains unclear to this day.
In Straight Jacket (Freedom is Better than Non-Freedom), bronze 2010, Magaril alludes to the infamous maxim by former President of Russia Dmitry Medvdev. Coined in 2008 during the meeting of The State Council in Moscow, this incongruous phrase was supposedly the ultimate expression of Russia`s readiness for civil and economic liberties. Reducing President`s lofty statement to the image of man held in a penitentiary institution, the artist expresses his cautious doubt about the nature of the current reforms. In “Faith, Hope, Love” (soap, plastic, wood, 2012) Magaril departs from his usual tongue-in-cheek political satire to create a philosophical generalization about the delicate nature of the three most important life components.

Mikhail Magaril was born in Leningrad in 1950. He received his M.A. from Moscow Printing Institute. Before relocating to the United States in 1990, Mikhail Magaril made a living as a book illustrator. In 1991, Magaril began working at the Center of Book Arts, New York. In 1998, the artist founded Summer Garden Editions ,a private publishing company producing artist’ books. Mikhail Magaril`s works are included in the permanent collections of the Metropolitan Museum of Art, Brooklyn Museum, The State Hermitage Museum, the rare book collections of the New York Public Library, The Library of Congress, Yale, Harvard and Cornell University, The British National Library, The Russian National Library and numerous private collections.

The show is on view until June 3rd, 2012