The work Pioneers reveals the character of artistic expression of Olga Soldatova, who is known for her love for the imagery of the ‘grand Soviet style’. Her favoured reference point is Alexander Deineka’s mosaics for Mayakovskaya metro station in Moscow, which combine an innovative approach to composition and the imperial grandeur of the ‘underground palaces for the masses’. In constant dialogue with these key works of Soviet monumental art Soldatova finds new interpretations of the seemingly obsolete subjects through the use of unconventional handicraft techniques like beadwork.
Soldatova’s Pioneers is executed in the stable and static format of a tondo, straying from the dynamic composition of Deineka’s oval pieces. The figures of a boy and a girl in green clothes, wearing Pioneer red scarves, holding airplane models in their hands, are pictured with their heads turned to the center of the image. The sparkly golden background, with no trace of the sky or clouds, is a direct reference to the original source of the Soviet monumentalism tradition – the early Christian mosaics of Ravenna and Constantinople, where this colour had a sacral significance.
In Soldatova’s body of work the pursuit of a bright progressive future, which today is perceived as a relic of the Soviet utopia, is free from sentimental nostalgia, or disappointment, or grudge. Instead the artist’s attitude is full of post-modernist irony, allowing for a fresh, distanced glance at the art of the bygone empire.
Olga Soldatova, 2004