The group exhibition “Really, Socialism?!” transforms the aesthetic of socialist realism from propaganda to political critique. Moscow-born artist Yevgeniy Fiks’s “Pleshkas of the Revolution” paintings (2013) show public squares (formerly gay cruising grounds) in his hometown. The squares, painted in Soviet academic style, are emptied out, and the flat application of paint used to depict them resembles watercolor. Beijing-based painter Jing Yuan Huang’s “I Am Your Agency” series (2013-14) is a standout. The artist effectively employs a photorealist monochrome technique to create what comes across as clear-eyed memories. Slightly hazy, the eerie paintings illustrate the Chinese Communist revolution as seen on TV, a clash between traditional and global cultures. Though the artists’ works may seem emotionally detached, their experiences in Communist countries lend nostalgia to sober realities.
Installation view of works by Jing Yuan Huang in “Really, Socialism?!” at MomentaArt. Courtesy MomentaArt, New York.