Classics and Modernity

The Donetsk Republican Art Museum (DRHM)


The Donetsk Republican Art Museum (DRHM) has developed a project designed to introduce the audience to young Donetsk talents, as well as to reawaken interest in the collection. DRHM invited contemporary artists to draw inspiration from paintings in the museum’s collection to create their own canvas.

Some of them completely reinterpreted the classic work, while some decided not to change the original, declaring it unquestionably perfect. In any case, the guys contributed a piece of themselves into these works. The “Classics and Modernity” project is not only an opportunity to get to know new faces. It is also an opportunity to take a fresh look at favorite paintings, recall them, become fascinated again, and want to visit the Donetsk Republican Museum of Art. Despite the hostilities and unstable situation in the region, every year DPR art universities and colleges release distinguished graduates. There is also a large number of young talents who come to fine arts through self-study and achieve outstanding results.
There is a constant development in this area in Donetsk and DPR, which creates fertile ground for the emergence of new names. This project helps learn about the artists and creators who write in our city and can be its worthy representatives. These are young talents who are already teaching, winning prizes and participating in international and all-Russian competitions. Our project demonstrates that Donetsk has a cultural life and is developing as an artistic hub. The project participants are ready to make a statement by showing their skills, demonstrating techniques and sharing their experiences. Classics and Modernity is an opportunity to create something new on the basis of something already established, time-tested. New techniques always emerge on the basis of old ones. The new masterpieces in our project are conceived on the basis of the classic museum collection. DRHM is excited to introduce people to young creators and renew interest in well-known works. The collection of the Donetsk Republican Art Museum consists of some 16 thousand works, including Aivazovsky, Shishkin, Serov, Falk, Kustodiev and Serebryakova. The collection is extensive and never fails to attract visitors and artists. By offering to draw inspiration from a work belonging to the museum’s collection, we help young artists hone their skills in aspiration to comprehend the technique of the great masters.
The project helps not only Donetsk visitor but any other person learn what masterpieces are exhibited at the museum. Such interactions with young people and creation of digital, especially visual content, help museums reach a new level of communication with their audiences and demonstrate their readiness for new forms of displaying collections and art. It’s no secret that ours is the age of digital content, so one has to take advantage of the audio-visual means of expression. “Classics and Modernity” is also informative. Each release is accompanied by the reference note not only about the creative area and the new picture, but also about the original work that lays at the basis. The material can be beneficial for students at art institutions, art lovers, and all segments of the population, as it broadens the horizons, teaches to understand art, and most importantly, its new forms, such as “kinusaiga” (the technique of creating images by “stitching” fabric without a needle) or digital art. The chosen format – photo, video and text – helps involve the reader as much as possible in the process of creation, to be inspired by the story of the artist and the character’s personality. It is also essential to reveal the person, to bring him/her closer to the reader, hence the format of an individual photo portrait. Our project is not only about the paintings and the museum. It is about people. It is for people.

How do you come up with a cool arts and culture digital project idea?

I really wanted to bring contemporary art into the seemingly classical museum media space. Art and its forms are changing, new faces and techniques emerge. For an art museum not to lag behind the developing audience, we needed to find a form that could attract young talent, draw the public’s attention, and make the museum relevant again. The author of the project is a photographer and videographer, so the idea was to combine these forms of presentation in one project. The creator aimed to present the artists and their creations in the media space, to find a new approach to the already known museum paintings, and to use the visual component – portraits of the creators and footage of the painting process. This way we can present the image of an artist as a creator in a more appealing way. But only photographs and a short video sequence cannot fully reflect the creative process, the artist’s creative journey and choices within the project. Therefore, in addition to describing the reference paintings from the collection, it was decided to interview the creators. The project turned out to be logical, consistent, using text, photographs, music and video to help the viewer fully empathize with the creator and the work.

What was the most difficult part of the first phase of the project?

In fact, there were no particular difficulties. Of course, launching any project, especially creative (artists draw real paintings on canvases, buy frames) is always precarious as there is a risk that you will not succeed in getting the audience interested and reaching out to it. Our first participant is an artist who is well-known in the city; she gives lessons and has a large number of fans. We worried as to not let her down by failing to implement those ideas that we really sought to implement – to present both her and the museum collection so as to make a statement. But we managed to do it right. From the first run, the project had the desired effect, attracted public attention, and in the days to follow, artists started to contact us to offer their participation.

What are the benefits of your project for people?

There are huge benefits. First, in this way we attract the attention of young audiences to art, to the art museum and its collection which contains valuable pieces. Second, the project introduces audiences to new visual art techniques, new faces and talents. The project draws the public into the field of art, reminds of museums that have not lost their relevance, and can offer visitors many new experiences. It is very important for such institutions not to lose touch with the developing audience and to keep pace with it. If the idea can inspire and encourage the creative effort, it is worth implementing. After all, if the stars are lit, it means that someone needs it?