Born in Russia and working in New York, Ilya Kabakov (b. 1933) is one of the most renowned contemporary artists and representatives of conceptual art in the world. The exhibition at the Sara Hildén Art Museum in spring 2008 was so far the most extensive display of his work in Finland. It comprised paintings, drawings and rugs that Ilya Kabakov had created with his wife and partner Emilia.
Ilya Kabakov lived and worked in the Soviet Union until the late 1980s. He began his artistic career as an illustrator of children's books in a State printing house. In the 1970s, he became famous as the leading figure of the Moscow Conceptualists. After he had emigrated to the West in 1988, his artistic expression underwent a transformation. Today he is known not only as one of the main exponents but also as a prominent theoretician of installation art.
The large paintings and drawings in the Under the Snow series on display at the Sara Hildén Art Museum showed the viewer a radiant world of snow. Holes of different shapes and sizes in the white blanket of snow reveal fragments of reality. These fragments include landscapes, human figures and historical events in bright colours, remnants from the bygone Soviet days or even further back.
Ilya and Emilia Kabakovs rugs are part of an art project by the Deweer Art Gallery in Belgium. In the project, a group of famous contemporary artists designed art textiles that the traditional Deweer weaving mill manufactured as its last task before it closed down. The themes of the rugs The Flying and The Flying 2 come from the album The Flying Komarov illustrated by Kabakov, where the topic of flying is discussed through fantasy and fairytale.
Ilya and Emilia Kabakovs fantasy ship, which spreads the message of tolerance, has been built in different corners of the world. Children are always welcome to participate in the project by decorating the sails with their drawings. The exhibition at the Sara Hildén museum had a small Ship of Tolerance. On this occasion there was an extra project associated with it, as Tampere is the 2008 UNICEF City. The project included workshops, guided tours and a side programme for children.
The touring exhibition Under the Snow by Ilya and Emilia Kabakov had been realised in the Sara Hildén Art Museum in cooperation with Museum am Ostwall, Germany, and CAC Málaga, Spain. The art rugs on loan from the Deweer Art Gallery were exhibited exclusively at the Sara Hildén Art Museum.
4734 visitors attended the exhibition.