The romantic image and dramatic fate of the Annenkirche has largely influenced the selection of works for this Sergey Kuznetsov’s solo exhibition of watercolors. Over the past 100 years this monument of classicist architecture of the second half of the 18th century designed by the outstanding architect Yury Felten (born Georg Veldten) has undergone several radical changes. In the Soviet period the church was used as a cinema house while during Perestroika and up to the 2000s it was a rock club and even a casino. Then the building was returned to the Lutheran Church and is today a centre of spiritual and cultural life of Saint Petersburg as a concert and exhibition venue. Traces of a big fire of 2002 in the church interior have unexpectedly formed part of the Annenkirche’s new identity that keeps attracting visitors.
Sergey Kuznetsov’s twelve watercolours on display focus on, literally and figuratively, cult buildings of Moscow, Saint Petersburg, Rome, Venice, and other cities of the world. Each of the depicted structures has long established itself as at least a notable, if not dominant constant of the surrounding landscape. However, architecture lives in time and, despite being static, any structure is also a living substance that is subject to endless changes under the impact of a multitude of factors, perhaps, fortunately not always so radical as was the case with the Annenkirche. This parallel existence of architecture in terms of ages and instants – always manifests itself in Kuznetsov’s works. As no other artistic means, his favourite watercolour reveals the architectural form dynamics due to, for instance, sliding light and shade, captures the fine atmospheric nuances. Rigid outlines blur and volumes grow lighter in transparent layers and spontaneous drips: buildings seem to lose their distinct mass, merging into a pulsating whole with the surroundings and with life itself unfolding within and without. A laconic palette (umber, sienna, sepia, cobalt, lavender, and occasionally uncompromising monochrome) helps skip the superfluous, yet the nimble brush and attentive eyes of the architect artist never fail to observe the “innate” character features or the buildup of multifarious stretches of time, be it a flourish of a capital volute, air conditioners contrasting the refined classical décor, deep-seated dust, or precipitation that cause graded modification of the façade colour. “For me brushstrokes on paper are always an expression of a unique moment of life in its duration rather than completion. Watercolour is a true art of light touch, and the well-thought-out incompletion and understatement are its natural techniques that expect the artist to stop in time. The twelve works chosen to be exhibited at the Annenkirche are twelve contacts with wonderful architecture, twelve impressions from the process of its existence in the current of life”, Kuznetsov comments on the name and concept of the exposition.
Especially for this exhibition, Planet 9 designed arched structures with perforated metal panels for fixing the paintings. Universal and light they harmoniously fit into the interior of the Annenkirche and remained in it for other expositions.
Supported by the Saint Petersburg International Cultural Forum
Curated by Ekaterina Shalina
Production and PR support: Irina Kuznetsova and Maria Ulianova
Project coordination: Andre Chaplygin
Exposition design: Agnia Sterligova/Planet 9