Opening of the Palisander gallery
Counterdesign: 70s, 80s
Denis Milovanov’s designs and abstract painting of the Soviet period.

On July 29, 2017, the Palisander gallery opened its Thoughts and Things exhibition devoted to Denis Milovanov’s designs and abstract painting of the Soviet period. With this binary concept the gallery continued on its course on finding the balance between design and art. 

Denis Milovanov has made a name for himself with his new take on on the ethnic Russian style and a reinterpretation of traditional furniture and kitchen utensils. His style became internationally recognizable after his appearance at the PAD fair, the Design Basel fair, the AD Collection exhibition and other events. Collectable design has been in great request in Europe and America, but it’s still a new thing for the Russian gallerists. The Thoughts and Things exhibition in the Palisander gallery was the first example of a collectable design display in a gallery space. 

Denis Milovanov’s SOHA Concept line, as well as his other works, is inspired by the sombre and romantic aesthetics of the Russian North and its traditions of woodworking. Expressive sculptural forms of archetypical furniture types – shelves, cabinets, chairs – gain these pieces a status of artistic objects. All of them are unique and made by hand using a complicated technology: the wood is soaked or boiled in oil and is finished with chainsaw and chisel. This production method results in a series of one-of-a-kind pieces which are highly collectable. They emit ethereal tranquillity which owns also to the personality of the designer.

The brutal minimalism of Milovanov’s works made an organic match to the expressiveness of abstract art by Marlen Spindler, Boris Turetsky, Evgeny Mikhnov-Voitenko, Yuri Zlotnikov, Vladimir Yakovlev and other well-known painters. All of them had troubled fates as it is often the case with grand-scale artists. Their inner freedom and integrity fulfilled them. The term ‘a Soviet abstractionist’ is a contradictory one, due to the antagonism of its components. In this case ‘Soviet’ indicates only the time period. Detachment from global trends and lack of a possibility to communicate with their colleagues abroad makes these works even more important. It is apparent that in the middle of the 20th century abstraction was a logical stage of artistic development in global terms. The Thoughts and Things exhibition wasn’t intended to be ultimately comprehensive; it rather presents a certain outline of a time frame, related to the genre of abstraction. The concept reflects the curators’ personal taste as well.