TRUE LY

18 December 2021 - 15 May 2022
Ruarts Foundation

The Ruarts Foundation presents a large-scale exhibition by Russian artists with a background in graffiti and street art that violate the status quo in the art establishment. This is a comprehensive overview of how yesterday’s underground becomes a part of the global artistic context. Since 2014 the Ruarts Foundation and Gallery has helped a large number of artists make the transition, literally from the street to the territory of contemporary art, and the TRUE LY project continues to monitor their development and transformations.

The ‘Urban Contemporary Art Artists’, as Russian street art researchers call artists with a street background, has itself changed the definition and form of art in the public perception. By bringing art to the streets, the pioneers of the street art movement in the 1960s in Europe and the USA freed art from the constraints of gallery walls, altering the public concept of where and how to look at art. With the adoption and approval of new forms in the art institution, this marks the return of art that once spontaneously appeared on the street. The transition testifies to the ever-thinning boundaries between spaces that only recently intersected, and to the increasing accessibility of art to a broad range of viewers. Street art retains in its evolution the spirit of rebellion, provocation and social subtext, but its style, honed on the streets, sometimes takes an increasingly refined form, and solo exhibitions allow artists to emerge from the shadow of anonymity and reinforce their status in the art world. 

The title of the exhibition refers to the work of the same name by Alexander Zhunev ‘True ly’. Zhunev’s image is both powerful and relevant for the modern world. The movable structure that occupies a central place in the exhibition is the personification of movement, freedom and spontaneity, an endless struggle for power. Swaying giant palms create a friction effect. If you end up inside, it’s important not to lose your position.

The exhibition presents 44 artists and more than 90 of their works created in different techniques and types of media: video, installation, painting, sculpture and photography.

The scenography of the exposition builds a coherent line of patterns: from the audacious underground environment of abandoned buildings through to the poverty of unfinished buildings, then to the sterile ‘white cube’ of galleries.

The collection of the Urban Contemporary Art Foundation began in 2014, with the purchase of 17 porcelain figurines in the form of fences by Moscow street artist 0331c. Since then the collection has grown exponentially. Many of the works were acquired after completion of the sensational project ‘Wall Elements’ in the St. Petersburg Manege, or at the street wave art auction held annually by the Ruarts Foundation together with the Artmossphere creative association.