28 August – 25 October 2014
Paintings by Leopold Plotek and selections from the SOVFOTO Archive
Curated by Leopold Plotek and Ben Portis
Organized by the MacLaren Art Centre, Barrie, Ontario
: September 11, 6 – 8 pm
Docent Guided Tour: September 17 at 12:30 pm for Lifelong Learning Week
The status of the artist in the Soviet Union from the Russian Revolution of 1917 to the death of Joseph Stalin in 1953 followed one of history's remarkable, unprecedented arcs. In the 1920s, artists — including painters, sculptors, architects, novelists, playwrights, poets, composers, musicians, dancers, actors, dramaturges and filmmakers — were the vaunted designers of the new society. In the 1930s, these same individuals met derision, obsolescence and ignominy, suffering the fullest abuses of the state if defiant. By the 1940s, a morbid conservatism and bourgeoisie befell those who had toed the party line and survived to reap official accolades from a system to which they barely remained relevant.
In this exhibition, photographic clusters of venerated Soviet period figures are displayed among painted and verbal tributes to their lives by Montreal artist Leopold Plotek—born in Moscow in 1948—for whom the concessions, indignities and humilities of Soviet artists has been a recurring subject.
Leopold Plotek fuses the Modernist picture with a Baroque compositional palette. He blends historical figures and settings into timeless screens that continue to filter and activate contemporary society. Plotek imagines artists, poets, philosophers, clerics, generals, politicians and mythological gods in mundane, humble and absurd situations, putting the pantheon on precarious grounds. Plotek has lived and worked in Montreal since 1960. He teaches at Concordia University. The exhibition publication was co-produced by the MacLaren Art Centre and McMaster Museum of Art.