Modern art at Манеж
04 August, 2016
Spend any time as a tourist in St. Petersburg and I guarantee it won’t be long before someone asks you: “Have you visited the Hermitage?”
True fact: no tourist in history has ever answered ‘no’ to the above.
Now, just because I made that^^ up shouldn’t discredit the point I am making here, which begins, dear readers, with a terrible confession: I hate the Hermitage.
Not the collection, you understand. World-class renaissance paintings in gilded rococo halls are fine by me, but the experience of visiting the place can be just ghastly. My main memories of the Hermitage are not of the art, but of hours dodging stationary hoards of tourists whilst muttering mild expletives under my breath. Which is why, now when I visit the city, I try to avoid the guide-book staples and head instead to the restorative calm of contemporary art galleries.
Just ever so slightly off the beaten tourist track, St. Petesburg also has a thriving scene of modern art, which this summer gained a huge new asset with the opening of Манеж (menage).
After three years of refurbishment, this gallery – housed in a beautiful early 19th century building, (the historical riding hall of the Horse Guards regiment) finally reopened on the 25th June. Both its convenient location next to St. Isaac’s cathedral and the fact that its now the largest gallery space in the whole city make it a must-see. Манеж has already been flaunting its contemporary art credentials with its inaugural show, an exhibition of Russian artists from the Venice Biennale. The distinctive curatorial strategy of this show embodied the philosophy of the gallery; that art shouldn’t be passively viewed, but actively engaged with. To this end, they have a rich schedule of workshops and lectures, film screenings, concerts and other events. One such is kicking off this weekend; the international festival of type design: Typetersburg.
Typetersburg Festival is the first attempt to unite professionals in type design, typography, calligraphy and lettering from all over the world and to showcase international graphic design right in the centre of St. Petersburg. Starting from 12.00 on Saturday 6th to 20.00 on Sunday 7th, they have a full schedule of lectures, shows and workshops. You can register here.
It’s also worth checking out Манеж for those two other staples of modern art galleries; fancy in-house coffee and bookshops. Манеж do both, and given the incontinent weather forecast over the weekend, what better way to spend it than sipping a flat white whilst browsing a Phaidon hard-back? Exactly. You’re welcome.
This blog was brought to you by Kamila, intern and student at Liden & Denz St. Petersburg