KEVIN BERLIN: "KIEV DAYS / KIEV NIGHTS":
SAVE THE DATE: July 1–14, 2010
Opening Reception:Saturday, July 3, 6–8 pm.
RVS FINE ART, 20 Job’s Lane, Southampton, New York. (631) 283-8546
BERLIN'S latest solo exhibition features 14 major larger than life canvases painted in Kiev, Ukraine "KIEV DAYS/ KIEV NIGHTS." Painted from life, "KIEV DAYS" features paintings posed for by ballerinas from the famed National Opera and Ballet of Kiev. Paintings from the "Days" series include "Between Acts," "Backstage," and the monumental canvas "Warm Up." "KIEV NIGHTS" features the extravagant nightlife of successful Kiev businessmen. The "NIGHTS" series includes "Decadence House," "The Bodyguards," and "The Vodka Drinkers." The exhibition enjoyed great popular success in the heart of historic Kiev, in the newest and tallest office building in Ukraine, the 33 story blue glass Parus Business Centre on Mechnikova Street.
There are many examples of studying female body thru representation of ballet dancers
in history of arts: Rodin, for whom portrait professional dancers, Degas, who caught everyday life of ballerinas, and, of course, Toulouse-Lautrec, who virtually lived at cabaret backstage.
Kevin Berlin is not the first artist, who was making sketches during rehearsals in our
theatre. And, I would say, it turned out into unexpected project. What makes me happy -
is ballet propaganda.
Of course, many artists portray ballet dancers, but not all of them are known to wide
audience. The same story might happen to Kevin Berlin, as it was with Anastasia Voloch-
kova – she is famous in post-soviet countries, whatever people say about her. When I
meet our emigrants abroad, the very first question they ask is my attitude to Anastasia
Volochkova. She has first place in representation of our ballet.
And Kevin Berlin with this series of work might begin to sound loud. The other thing
is that someone will like his creative work, others-won’t. To tell you the truth, I do not
like Picasso, Van Gogh, Malevich or Hirst, but someone think they are great. I prefer
Michelangelo and Dali. Everything is very subjective in this world. Probably, I do not like
Berlin’s style, but I am pleased that contemporary American artist could represent ballet
in another way, which is unique and different. As a result we have naked souls, naked
waist-high and below the belt.
Viktor Anatolievich Yaremenko
Ballet director of the Ukraine National Opera
It is amazing that American art, which has been always associated with abstraction
and pop-art, Pollock and Warhol, is represented by painters nowadays. They work and
exhibit in New-York, art capital of second half of 20th century. First museums of con-
temporary art that educated new viewers and new artists appeared in this city. Here got
accustomed Dadaism and surrealism. Here were noticed photography and new media.
Kevin Berlin, whose creative work is exhibited in Ukraine for the first time, belongs to
certain generation of New-York artists, who still work with oil on canvas. Moreover, Ber-
lin embodies realistic direction of contemporary painting, insomuch it is possible in the
end of postmodernism, after surrealism, hyper-realism, pop-art and conceptual art.
To American audience he is well known for series of works, devoted to trivial things.
His artistic eye has caught main symbols of consumerism and glamour – designer bags,
Chinese cigarette packs and modeling business. With realistic calculation and enviable
impartiality he images hallucinogenic reality, a dream, an illusion.
Art project “Kiev-days. Kiev-nights” is a large scale canvases, where daytime stories are
backstage images from opera theatre (Berlin portrayed young ballerinas), and nighttime
subjects are pictures from nightclub “Decadence House”.
It may seem that artist’s choice is strange. Ballet is used to be seen as exceptionally
beautiful, and in Berlin’s work it is brought together with club crowd. Same delusive im-
pression has order of shots. Berlin uses grotesque, and grotesque is critical method.
We see eyes, gestures, feelings, passions, backstage stories, and tears of young balleri-
nas – and next to them are severe faces of bodyguards, tattooed bartenders, and naked
furies. There are expression and impassivity, reality and theatre, passionate gestures
and frozen poses, despair and control.
It is not about interpreting the picture, the clue is to “read” author’s attitude. He is what?
Lenient? Dismissive? Cynical? Anyways, artist is not showing it.
As usual, Kiev Berlin is interested in representation of status, ambitions, passions, cul-
tural codes… In everything what makes certain city special. There is no border between
banal and aesthetical. By the way, naked girls in “Decadence House” might be ballerinas.
We have self-knowledge and new interpretations of what about everyday life is, and what
are relations with world, where two parallel realities cross, after all.
Art Critic, Kiev, Ukraine, May 27, 2009
I am particularly interested in the project as Kevin succeeded to make the paintings beautiful and
spectacular, although showing ballet backstage atmosphere. I liked the most “The Lovers” subject
as it is very elegant and timely…
Soloist of National Opera and Ballet
Theatre of Ukraine