Apricot Juice

Sanya Kantarovsky and Ieva Misevičiūtė

‘Well what have you got?’ asked Berlioz. 
‘Apricot juice, only it’s warm’ was the answer. 
‘All right, let’s have some.’ 
The apricot juice produced a rich yellow froth, making the air smell like a hairdresser’s.
– Mikhail Bulgakov, The Master and Margarita 

Sanya Kantarovsky, whose practice encompasses painting, drawing, sculpture and occasionally film, has brought together his own work with that of Lithuanian-born artist Ieva Misevičiūtė. Misevičiūtė’s practice combines physical theatre, dance, stand-up, Butoh, perverted academic language and sculptural work.

Apricot Juice takes place around two distinct parts – a language and movement-based performance by Misevičiūte and a group of five large-scale paintings by Kantarovsky. The exhibition departs from Mikhail Bulgakov’s enigmatic masterpiece novel The Master and Margarita, a narrative woven around a visit by the Devil to the aggressively atheist Soviet Union. Written between 1928 and the author’s death in 1940, the novel has become one of the most potent and critical works of Russian literature of the 20th century.

During two live performances Misevičiūtė interacted with the immediate surroundings of a cat shaped stage placed in the nave of the former chapel, a prop that was built to conjure the form of Bulgakov’s demonic feline character Behemoth. Together with the paintings, scaled and lit in response to the original function of the chapel as a place of worship, the installation invoked the Christian metanarrative within The Master and Margarita.

The genesis of the collaboration between the two artists consisted of a series of gesture drawings and character studies of Misceviciute in Kantarovsky’s studio. The final paintings, indexical to Miscviciute’s body, mirrored chronological scenes from the novel. In turn, Miscevicute re-appropriated the paintings as a departure point for building a layered movement and language based performance, eventually closing the collaborative loop by engaging with the paintings hung in the gallery space. In effect, the process allowed both artists to consider the content of The Master and Margarita at length, coalescing and diverging their practices in the process.

The resulting event, ad absurdum, considers a possibility of a space between literature, painting and theatre, in which secular skepticism can momentarily dissolve into belief.

  1. Sanya Kantarovsky

    Sanya Kantarovsky (b. 1982, Moscow, Russia) lives and works in New York. Recent solo and two person exhibitions include: Gushers, Marc Foxx, Los Angeles (2015); Allergies, Casey Kaplan, New York (2014); Little Vera with Ella Kruglyanskaya, KIM?, Riga (2014); and You Are not an Evening, GAK, Bremen (2013). Kantarovsky participated in the group exhibition Notes on Neo-Camp at Studio Voltaire, London in 2013. Recent special projects include: Research and Reporting at KW, Berlin (2014); and LAX façade, Los Angeles (2013).

    Kantarovsky is represented by Marc Foxx, Los Angeles; Tanya Leighton, Berlin; and Stuart Shave/Modern Art, London.

    Ieva Misevičiūtė

    Ieva Misevičiūtė is a New-York based performance artist. Selected performances include: The Kitchen, New York; Time-Based Art Festival, Portland; Beursschouwburg theater, Brussels; dOCUMENTA (13), Kassel; de Appel art center, Amsterdam; Center Pompidou, Paris; Performa 09 at Swiss Institute, New York; Swiss Sculpture Exhibition Biel-Bienne, Le Mouvement: Performing the City.

  2. Sanya Kantarovsky collaborated with Stuart Bailey on NO JOKE an extensive monograph which was released in theautumn of 2015. Published by Studio Voltaire and generously supported by Casey Kaplan, New York; Marc Foxx,Los Angeles; Tanya Leighton, Berlin; and Stuart Shave/Modern Art, London.

  3. How to work together is a shared programme of contemporary art commissioning and research devised by Studio Voltaire, Chisenhale Gallery and The Showroom. The other commissioned artists for 2015 are Ahmet Ögüt at Chisenhale Gallery, 29 April–31 May and Wendelien van Oldenborgh at The Showroom, 29 April–20 June.

    How to work together is supported by a capacity building and match funding grant from Arts Council England through Catalyst Arts, with additional funding in this third and final year from Bloomberg, Jerwood Charitable Foundation, Cockayne and The London Community Foundation.


  4. Sanya Kantarovsky in collaboration with Ieva Misevičiūtė, Apricot Juice, 2015. Installation View, Studio Voltaire, London. Commissioned by Studio Voltaire for How to work together, a shared project with Chisenhale Gallery and The Showroom. Courtesy of the artists, Casey Kaplan, New York, Stuart Shave/Modern Art, London, and Tanya Leighton Gallery, Berlin. Photo: Andy Keate.

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