Kate Sutton went to the opening of the Hirst retrospective at the Pinchuk Arts Center in Kiev and filed this ArtForum Diary entry on the event. Here are some all-too-brief selections from an essay that should really be read in full:
In press notes, the exhibition is loosely termed a retrospective, but the majority of the works on display are new paintings, many making their world debut—and potentially final stop, if rumors are to be believed—in Kiev. The show is not without its share of cutesy curatorial moments and good-natured self-consciousness. [ . . . ] In the sixth-floor SkyArtCafe, Ukrainian art stars (and PinchukArtCentre regulars) Ilya Chichkan, Masha Shubina, Zhanna Kadyrova, and Sergey Bratkov offered tips for avoiding the irrationally stingy champagne pours. (Bratkov ordered two glasses at a time, while Kadyrova simply grabbed the bottle, flashing a sweet smile at the dreadlocked bartender.) Curators Daniel Birnbaum and Francesco Bonami were perpetually “just here a minute ago,” as was artist Andreas Gursky, who has developed something of a following in Kiev since his own exhibition in the space last September.
Soon after the SkyArtCafe hit capacity, guests were bussed to a dinner at Kiev’s Puppet Theatre, a hilltop palace that combines display windows of creepy wooden puppets with a grotto-themed garderobe and a ritzy rooftop patio. It took several loudspeaker announcements to redirect guests from the open bar on the roof to the small theater for the evening’s entertainment. Even then, guests were reluctant to commit to a seat, and people congregated in the aisles so as to better calculate which row Pinchuk might choose. (For the record, the collector took a PR-friendly seat in the very center, between Jeff Koons and Ukrainian enfant terrible Chichkan.) [ . . . ] The crowd eventually dispersed for dinner, dancing, and further distraction. Tate director Nicholas Serota, Gagosian’s Victoria Gelfand, and Stedelijk Museum director Gijs van Tuyl were all spotted skirting the edges of the dance floor, where a pop band put Ukrainian folk accents (read: lots of kicking and whooping) to covers of songs like “Hotel California.” Bianca Jagger chatted amiably with Koons and GCCC founder Dasha Zhukova, while onlookers cast covert glances to see whether Daniel Craig (whose arrival had triggered a wave of whispered “It’s Bond, James Bond!”s—which apparently never gets old) would try his hand at the whooping. Alas, no such luck.
Love Hirst (ArtForum.com)