Konstantin Simun: The Sacred in the Profane
February 21 – June 30, 2019
Konstantin Simun often poses the question “trash or treasure?” when speaking of his sculptures. Simun asks us to see spiritual images in banal plastic vessels such as milk jugs and crates. He accomplishes this through a slight alteration to the original form, a shift in orientation, or the fusing of one object with another. These objects are so ubiquitous and ordinary that we rarely stop to consider their formal qualities, let alone contemplate them as symbolic or transcendent objects. Simun’s fascination with plastic did not diminish over the years, and he continues to create artworks not only from plastic, but also in traditional materials like bronze, silver, and ceramic that replicate the visages that he sees in plastic.
The Sacred in the Profane offers a survey of Simun’s unique capacity to find forms that appear in ancient art and Christian iconography in molded plastic and other consumer objects since his arrival to the United States from Russia in the early 1980s. Viewed within the Museum of Russian Icons, it is possible to contemplate Simun’s exposure to the icon tradition, as well as to consider the way in which Simun’s story of discovery and fascination with plastic parallels the MoRI’s founder and former president of Nypro Plastics Gordon B. Lankton’s connoisseurship of icons.
Jacques’ Menagerie: Hnizdovsky Prints from the Christina and George Gamota Collection
March 16 – July 7, 2019
Born in Ukraine, trained in Poland and Croatia, a refugee to the US who was embraced by American viewers and collectors, Jacques Hnizdovsky (1915-1985) traveled a difficult road through life. His art, however, expressed his capacity for joy, humor, and hope, most often in of animals from the Bronx Zoo, have been widely recognized and beloved for over half a century. This exhibition presents a single collection of Hnizdovsky prints (woodcuts, linocuts, and etchings), as well as one of his paintings, which are rarely seen.
The collection was assembled by a Ukrainian-American family who shared Hnizdovsky’s experience of displacement, hardship, and adaptation in the course and aftermath of World War II, passing through the same refugee camps and having a personal connection with the artist. The works, mostly images of animals and plants, as well as an occasional portrait or still-life, acquired very personal symbolism for different members of the family.
This show tells the story of both Hnizdovsky and the Gamotas in the intimate setting of the Museum’s Contemporary Exhibition Gallery.