S.M.A.K. Ghent

S.M.A.K. Stedelijk Museum voor Actuele Kunst | Jan Hoetplein 1
B-9000 Ghent

plan route show map

artist / participant

press release

The oeuvre of Russian photographer Sergej Bratkov (°1960) is strongly influenced by his origin and has roots in Soviet Realism. These last few years his work has been increasingly recognised internationally. This is indicated through his participation in the Russian Pavilion at the 2003 Venice Biennale. The past few years his work has also been included in various international group exhibitions that focus on Russian artists, as well as numerous solo exhibitions.

The choice of Sergej Bratkov offers a unique opportunity to spotlight the relatively unknown field of Russian contemporary art for a wide audience. Bratkov’s work offers a reflection on how current Russian art functions in the context of the post-Soviet era; where artists take a more or less ambiguous attitude with regard to national identity and critically approach the transformation of the former Soviet Union into a capitalist society.

Sergej Bratkov makes series of portraits of various groups of ‘normal’ people such as labourers, prostitutes, children, soldiers, etc. In his portraits the protagonists transcend their commonplace. Normal people are taken out of their daily context and pictured as ‘heroes’ or, more precisely, ‘anti-heroes’. Bratkov’s images are permeated by razor-sharp realism. Behind the portraits lies a collective past that has not yet been dealt with and an individual scepticism towards the future. In his photographs Bratkov criticises both propagandist cliché images of Soviet ideology and stereotypical capitalist mass media poses. The inherent power of the ‘radical realism’ in his work is remarkable.

The exhibition in the S.M.A.K. shows existing series of photographs as well as an extensive series of newly created work. As part of the exhibition’s concept there is a route of a series of light boxes in various locations in the city alongside the museum presentation.


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Sergej Bratkow