New Exhibition – “Pavel Pepperstein. The Human as a Frame for the Landscape”

Pepperstein’s retrospective exhibition will be on view at the Moscow’s Garage museum from 28th February until 2 June.
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Bushido (from the series Philosophical Categories), 2018
Image © Pavel Pepperstein

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Endless American Flag on the Moon, 2015
Image © Pavel Pepperstein

A Boy and a Gangster
The Boy and The dying Gangster, 1996
Image © Pavel Pepperstein

Pepperstein at The Israel Museum – exhibition views

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Image © The Israel Museum

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Image © The Israel Museum

Victory over the Sun: Russian Avant-Garde and Beyond
The Israel Museum, Jerusalem
Until 10 June 2019


Victory over the Sun: Russian Avant-Garde and Beyond

Several drawings by Pepperstein are featured in a new exhibition titled “Victory over the Sun: Russian Avant-Garde and Beyond” at the Israel Museum, Jerusalem. This comprehensive exhibition will focus on the strong relationship between the emergence of avant-garde trends in the country during the 20th century and the historic and political events that provoked them.

Image © Pavel Pepperstein

Victory over the Sun: Russian Avant-Garde and Beyond
The Israel Museum, Jerusalem
Until 10 June 2019

New collaboration with the fashion label DELADA

The fashion label DELADA has licenced several of Pepperstein’s images, including from the series Breaking the Ice, for its new 2019 Spring Collection. Breaking the Ice is inspired by a cycle of narrative poetry by Mikhail Kuzmin, The Trout Breaks the Ice (1929), in which the author attempts to break away from literary tradition and challenges the social norms and taboos of the time. Using psychedelic associations Pepperstein aims to achieve the effect of complete and utter freedom and even verges on the absurd notion of freedom from freedom itself. It is the ultimate triumph over any social and cultural constraints.

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Images © DELADA

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The babushkas are breaking the ice (from the series Breaking the ice), watercolour on paper, 2013
Image © Pavel Pepperstein
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Animals and Supremas – new exhibition

_DSC7724Pepperstein’s  Animals and Supremas exhibition at KEWENIG, Palma de Mallorca until 15th September 2018.

Images © Pavel Pepperstein

Happy Moscow

Pepperstein-Happy Moscow book cover

The International Platonov Festival recently published a new edition of Andrei Platonov’s novel, Happy Moscow, designed and illustrated with twenty beautiful drawings by Pepperstein. Just 500 copies of the limited edition book have been printed.

Image © Pavel Pepperstein

Prague City Travel Book – collaboration with Louis Vuitton

Pepperstein-Prague book 1 Copyright © 2018 Louis Vuitton Malletier

Louis Vuitton has published its Prague City Travel Book illustrated by Pavel Pepperstein. For its series of luxury travel books, Louis Vuitton invites internationally renowned artists to tell the stories of the cities and countries they have visited, depicting each place’s varied architecture and recording the passing days and the lives of its people.

Pepperstein-Prague book back Copyright © 2018 Louis Vuitton Malletier

Prague fairy tales

Pepperstein’s Prague fairly tales exhibition at Multimedia Art Museum in Moscow until 3rd June 2018.
Pepperstein-Prague book presentation 26.04.2018
Image © Nahodka Arts Ltd

Pepperstein-Prague project 3
Image © Pavel Pepperstein                                                                 

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Image © Pavel Pepperstein

The Israel Museum, Jerusalem has acquired several works by Pepperstein for its permanent collection

Pepperstein-The way of communication in the year 5781, 2017
In 5781, two new types of speech, with their concomitant behaviours, will become fashionable – triangular and circular speech. Triangular speech will be especially noticeable among men over the age of fifty. Circular speech will be very popular among young girls. The union of an elderly gentleman with a young girl will be called a “triangle inscribed in a circle”. 

Pepperstein-The Malevich Tower, 2017A skyscraper named the Malevich Tower (or Black Cube), erected in 2513, will provoke wide debate in Russian society. Critics will talk of the gloomy and overwhelming nature of the building, intended to house the Russian government, arguing that it symbolizes the traditional opacity of the Russian authorities’ actions. Supporters, however, will point to the extraordinary feeling of heavenly space unfolding around an unprecedented building whose walls are opaque only when viewed from the outside, while from the inside they are completely transparent and even have special optical properties that make it possible to see far into the distance, distinguishing what is seen in the tiniest detail.

Text & Images © Pavel Pepperstein                                                        


Si vis pacem, para bellum

Image © Pavel Pepperstein

The Human Condition

Works by Pepperstein are featured in a new exhibition opening at Schönewald Gallery in Düsseldorf. The exhibition entitled The Human Condition pays homage to the eponymous book by Hannah Arendt, published in 1958, in which she sets out the basic conditions of human coexistence in the form of ‘labour, work, and action’.

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Image © Pavel Pepperstein
The Human Condition, 19th Jan – 2nd March, Schönewald Fine Arts, Lindenstraße 182, Düsseldorf

Pepperstein at Art Basel, Miami

Kewenig Galerie is presenting a beautiful series of drawings by Pepperstein this week at Art Basel in Miami Beach.

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 Images © Kewenig Galerie

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Image © Pavel Pepperstein

New book by Pavel Pepperstein

Garazh Museum (Moscow) has published a new book of illustrated short stories in Russian by Pepperstein. The book can be purchased directly from the museum. cover 1 2017


Facing East @ MAMM

Pavel Pepperstein and Sean Scully at the opening of a new exhibition at Multimedia Art Museum in MoscowPepperstein-Sean Scully 03.11.2017

Pepperstein with Andrey MalakhovPepperstein-Malakhov

Olga Sviblova, Director of Multimedia Art Museum, Moscow, introducing Facing EastSviblova-Sean Scully 03.11.2017
Photos: Nataliya Tazbash;  © Nahodka Arts Ltd

Cosmic Shift – Pepperstein in Anthology of Contemporary Art writing

Zed Books will hold the launch of its latest publication, Cosmic Shift – Russian Contemporary Art Writing, on Wednesday 11th October 2017, 6.30pm at Waterstones, Gower Street, London.

Evening programme:
Screening of ‘Krisis’ by Dmitri Venkov
Q&A with Editors of Cosmic Shift, Elena Zaytseva and Alex Anikina.

In this, the first anthology of Russian contemporary art writing to be published outside Russia, many of the country’s most prominent contemporary artists, writers, philosophers, curators and historians come together to examine the region’s various movements of contemporary art, culture, and theory, from communism, cosmism and conceptualism to past and future futures. With contributions by Bart De Baere, Pavel Pepperstein, Ilya Kabakov, Boris Groys, Dmitri Prigov, Andrey Monastyrsky and others.

Cosmic Shift

THE VOLUNTARY DISAPPEARANCE OF THE HUMAN RACE (from the book “The Secrets of our time”)


It is all very simple, and not much is required of human beings. Merely not to cause pain, not to torment, not to defile and to use a certain degrees of caution in mating with each other – so that no children are born. In order to limit the birth rate, childhood must become a universal condition once again. It is essential to support ecological programmes, in order to heal the consequences of our presence on the Earth. The task facing the human race is one of delicate self-removal without the use of wars and cruel devices. Simply to have fewer and fewer children and at the same time “heal the wounds of the Earth”, so that by the time human beings disappear, the planet will be in superlative, flourishing condition.

Try as we might to shirk it, we owe this magnanimous consideration to the “non-human” – to free the “non-human” from human beings. This very disappearance will be the supreme manifestation of humanity. The earth will be left, covered by forests, with their primal innocence restored, with the oceans, the mountains, the depressions, the snowy expanses, the deserts, the islands, the glaciers, the lakes and all the rest. And only the spirits will move in silent merriment upon the face of the waters.

© Pavel Pepperstein, 2010


Pepperstein at Albertina Museum

Pepperstein is featured in a new exhibition at Albertina Museum in Vienna. From over 10,000 works acquired over the past 18 years the Museum has selected 350 works by 55 artists for this presentation. Pepperstein’s album ‘Day’ (pictured here below) was acquired by Albertina in 2016. The album is a contemplation on the meaning of the Soviet Union’s Great Patriotic War, through the lens of a single day, Victory Day (9th May, 1945).

Pepperstein-Albertina exhibition 1
Image © mariokiesenhofer

Pepperstein-Album Day 13
Image © Pavel Pepperstein

Exhibition showing until 8th October 2017

A new translation of a short story by Pepperstein (from his book “Spring”)


Who ever permitted humans, those arrogant wretches, to snatch other creatures, offhandedly interfere in their business, devour them, kill them, maim them, shit everywhere and fill everything full of filth and poison?

They say that God permitted it. But only humans say that. All right then, I’ll believe it, if at least one non-human confirms it: an ant, a stone, a breeze, a crack, a grain, a waterfall, a gas, an elephant or a piece of ice.

Of course, there are some delightful individuals among humans, especially certain girls and children, as well as enlightened little old women and little old men. The humans can be forgiven a lot for their sake. But even so, on the whole humans are a bunch of demented, conceited, absolute fuckheads, deranged by greed and envy! They brazenly carry on producing more of their own kind, and actually take pride in it, as if it was some kind of good deed. And they’ve congested the entire planet so badly that the ducks and the peaches, as they say, soon won’t have anywhere left to draw breath or fart.

But on the other hand, it’s kind of stupid to be angry with people. Sometimes you can glance into the face of one of the most terrible of them – for instance, a war criminal, a dictator or a serial killer – and that face glimmers with a surprising, childish bewilderment, or the dryness of a splinter of wood, or the dangling fragility of a Christmas tree decoration… It makes you burst into laughter and stop feeling angry with them.

This was the thought of a colossal diamond cube, who was dubbed the “tolerant outraged cube” because his thought flowed so freely and his rage was so irresolute. And what does this cube do? He dances away, performing his cube dance at the centre of some fresh void or other. He wallows blissfully in his own glitterings and shimmerings: sometimes he gets angry, sometimes he turns mellow.

© Pavel Pepperstein, 2010

Hans Ulrich Obrist on Pepperstein

One of the world’s leading curators Hans Ulrich Obrist recently wrote a short review of Pepperstein’s exhibition at Kunsthaus Zug:


If one does not look at the world from mankind’s restricted point of view then categories such as temporality, progress or decay are no longer valid, but everything is permanent and exists side by side.

Naturally it is not very easy to adopt this perspective, in fact it is more or less impossible as we as humans can only see things the way we do. However, there appear to be exceptions. One of them is Pavel Pepperstein. Born in Moscow in 1966, Pepperstein is one of the most important contemporary artists and a pioneer of Russian art who succeeded in freeing his work from the ideological dictates of the Soviet Union’s ‘Socialist realism’. Interestingly, he doesn’t appeal to the alternative canon of Western art, but the young Soviet Union’s belief in progress, according to which almost everything which appeared impossible according to the rules of physics would soon be realized by technical means. For example, the reanimation of the dead – such as Picasso.

The Russian avant-garde didn’t restrict itself to thinking along purely rational lines. Some of them invoked the Christian orthodox philosopher Nikolai Fyodorov, a confidant of Dostoyevsky, who predicted that some day all the Russians who had ever lived would be brought back to life by technical means. One thought cosmically and from a cosmic perspective dates such as 1973, the year of Picasso’s death, or today’s 2017, are fairly irrelevant. And so it happened that Pepperstein—whose artistically minded parents gave him the name of the famous Spaniard—set about artistically resurrecting the role model.

The reincarnation will take place in 3111. However, that we are able to experience it now is due firstly to the Kunsthaus Zug, which has made its rooms available for this purpose, and secondly to Pepperstein’s resolution of the seeming paradox of being able to show an event which will first take place just over a thousand years in the future in the here and now. Like all Russian literature and art which during the decades of dictatorship had to learn to conceal the true in the bizarre, one can only understand Pepperstein’s work if one views it as neither purely serious nor purely amusing. Ultimately this is the case with all avant-garde art: even when it is ahead of its time it is already here today.

This article was originally published in German in Das Magazin, April 2017.

Pepperstein at Kunsthaus Zug – exhibition views





Photos: Kunsthaus Zug; © Oliver Baer

Until 21st May 2017

Pepperstein at Moscow Triennial



 Images © Pavel Pepperstein and Nahodka Arts

Павел Пепперштейн на Триеннале российского современного искусства

Павел Пепперштейн работает над проектом ‘Воскрешение Пабло Пикассо в 3111 году’

Pavel Pepperstein at work on The Resurrection of Pablo Picasso in the Year 3111. Currently on display at Kunsthaus Zug.



Groys on Pepperstein

Boris Groy’s essay on Pavel Pepperstein reproduced below with kind permission of Julie Saul Gallery:

The Greek Afternoons of Jacqueline Kennedy

Contemporary celebrity culture permanently confronts us with the images of politicians, sportsmen, actors or singers who seem to be totally reduced to their public roles. This inevitably provokes in the reader or spectator the desire to look behind the surface – and to discover real persons behind the formulaic media figures. The attempts to satisfy this desire produce numerous memoirs, documentaries and “true stories” told by “authentic witnesses”. However, all these documentaries and memoirs only add new narratives to the mythology that media has already created around celebrity figures. Thus, the desire of “private” and “human” remains forever unsatisfied and merely serves the media letting its mythology grow. The new series of drawings by Pavel Pepperstein exploits and at the same time ironize this desire. Pepperstein pretends to present the unknown drawings by Jacqueline Kennedy that allegedly were made by her after the death of Aristotle Onassis – drawings that reveal her secret desires and obsessions. However, these drawings refer to nothing personal or private. Rather, Pepperstein relates the myth surrounding Jacqueline Kennedy with other myths and thus creates a network, a rhizome of mythological references and connections. Instead to reveal a private person behind the myth the artist integrates this myth into the tradition of Eastern and Western mythology – from antique Greece to the Cold War.

In the context of Pepperstein’s drawings USA and USSR are presented as enemy twins that are more intimately connected than divided by their ideological and political conflict. Lee Harvey Oswald and his Soviet wife Marina connect the death of John Kennedy to the long history of American vs. Soviet intrigues and conspiracies. However, Pepperstein is less interested in the Cold War itself than in the fact that after the assassination of John Kennedy Jacqueline moved from the USA to Greece. Greece is, of course, a place where Western mythology originated. It was a sensual, erotic mythology that celebrated sexual desire and at the same time stoicism in the face of death. This erotic aspect of Greek mythology builds an obvious contrast with American Protestantism – and Pepperstein plays with this contrast. Jacqueline looks as a big fish when she is carried to the see by Greeks who look more like servants than captors. But at the same time she appears very small compared to the head of Athena who symbolizes the wisdom and power of the Greek state tradition. On the head of Athena is an owl that has the eyes that represent the sign of infinity.  But on another drawing “Noon on Scorpios Island” we see a scene that obviously refers to the poem of Mallarme “The Afternoon of a Faun” that celebrates the ephemeral, fleeting character of erotic dreams. But to an even greater degree it refers to the eponymous ballet choreographed by Vaclav Nijinsky – one of the highlights of the famous “Ballets Russes” performed in Paris in 1912.

But, of course, Jacqueline came not to antique Greece but to the Greece dominated by Orthodox Christianity – the faith that it shares with Russia. Thus, a sojourn in Greece meant for the Jackie of Pepperstein’s drawings not only a vacation in the paradise of erotic dreams but also a cultural space that was and still is religiously and culturally alternative to the West. The drawings reflect this ambivalence of Jackie’s Greek experience: to their main protagonists belong the centaurs that display their “material bottom”, as the Russian philosopher Mikhail Bakhtin would say, but also their torsos and heads covered in the manner of the Christian Orthodox priests or monks. Now, Pepperstein makes obvious that the whole Greek mythological world can be easily destroyed by the American supremacy attacking it from the skies. Thus, “Mr. America”can relax and drink a glass of wine that looks like a glass of blood – and could also be the Holy Grail. However, even here Pepperstein remains ambivalent: the geometrical forms symbolizing the American attack remind one, of course, of the Suprematist paintings by Kazimir Malevich that can be seen as symbols of the Russian avant-garde and, actually, also of the Russian revolution.

Thus, the chains of mythological associations that are displayed by Pepperstein’s drawings do not serve to elucidate or clarify anything at all. From the beginning of his artistic career Pepperstein practiced polemics against psychoanalysis. The psychoanalysis subjects the free play of associations to a certain goal – to reveal some real facts behind the private mythologies of the patients like the people who try to find the private facts behind the public mythologies of celebrities. Pepperstein, on the contrary, uses the technique of free associations to get rid of any interpretive control and therapeutic goal. Jackie begins to fabulate and associate precisely to escape the control by menacing, terrifying – when also purely phantasmic – figures of the psychoanalytical doctors. In his young years, in the 1980s, Pepperstein belonged to the (post)conceptualist group “Inspection Medical Hermeneutics”. The artists of “Medical Hermeneutics” practiced precisely this kind of free play of associations devoid of any practical goal – to get rid of any kind of ideological control. In so doing they were radicalizing the positions of such Moscow Conceptualist artists of the older generation as Ilya Kabakov or Andrei Monastyrski. These artists presented their artworks as starting points for a play for associations and interpretations into which the audience was also involved. It was the diversity and heterogeneity of interpretations that was consequently aestheticized by the artists, i.e. became that field in which artistic activity in fact took place, so that these interpretations and illustrations were themselves transformed into the artworks. The premise for such aesthetization of theoretical and therapeutic interpretations of artistic activity is, naturally, a total loss of faith in their effective explanatory force. The “Medical Hermeneutic” diagnosed health as the more radical form of illness – and used art as a means to cure this illness. The alleged drawings by Jacqueline Kennedy are a good example of this anti-psychoanalytical cure.

Boris Groys, philosopher and art critic, February 19, 2017

Pepperstein in New York

PP NY BoothPepperstein’s exhibition at the prestigious ADAA Annual Show succeeded in provoking a reaction (see links). The Secret Drawings of Jacqueline Kennedy, a multi-dimensional project bringing together video, short-story, fashion and art, employs mise en abyme in a wide-ranging exploration of modern myth and ancient mythology. But for some New Yorkers there remains a comforting haze around the memory and image of Jackie O. Like children we demand that our heroes should be fleckless, and easily believe them so. This is why painting icons has never been straightforward as Manet discovered when he refused to idealise Christ.

The Art Show: When Contemporary Art Is Uninspiring, Dealers Turn to History

PP NY Booth 3

PP NY Booth 2
Courtesy of Julie Saul Gallery