Daria Zhukova re-emerges as the face of the art market after a brief hiatus. Her recent show of works from Francois Pinault’s collection has been getting good press. Here she sits down with Peter Aspden of the Financial Times:
Her enthusiasm for the project is palpable. She takes my napkin to show how the parallelogram structure of the building has been adapted over the past 12 months to form a versatile home for future exhibitions. She says she only ever thought about the Garage as a space for hosting “6,000 square metres of amazing contemporary art”.
[ . . . ] Zhukova says the introductory element of the Pinault show, curated by Caroline Bourgeois, is deliberately conceived. Moscow is a reluctant embracer of novel art forms and she wanted to show a panorama of contemporary art to what may be a grudging public. “I am sure a lot of people won’t understand it. A lot of people will be confused and sceptical. The most popular art movement here is Impressionism, that’s what we were taught was beautiful.” She knows it’s a long way from Renoir to the hyper-polished hearts of Jeff Koons or the raw visual jokes of Maurizio Cattelan. [ . . . ]
I say one of my worries about contemporary art is that it can appear over-decorative, and shows little sign of engagement with social and political issues. “That can be true but maybe people are tired of political art and want something beautiful.” [ . . . ]
She says she is gradually building her own collection. “I have just started, and I am learning a lot about myself. I am very drawn to humorous work.” She says she bought a piece on impulse at Frieze last year, an old-fashioned computer from the 1980s that sings forlorn pop songs in a computerised voice and has a cup in front of it for change. “I love the idea of a homeless computer,” she says. “Nobody wants it.” (The work is in a quiet corner of the cloakroom when I visit the Pinault exhibition the next day, where its pathos is yet more pronounced.) [ . . . ]
The arts in Russia are, according to this account, about 50 years behind the times. Zhukova’s experiment in bringing fresh voices and forms to her native country is not just a vanity project. Moscow, a city so rich in the culture of the past, needs the Garage.
That view is reinforced at the gallery the next day by the Italian artist Francesco Vezzoli, whose satirical takes on fame and celebrity form part of the Pinault exhibition. “It is fantastic what she has done,” he says when I ask him about Zhukova. “To have that vision, and not be afraid to fail. It is Diaghilevian. She is the new Diaghilev.”
Lunch with the FT: Daria Zhukova (Financial Times)