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Valery Katsuba: Russian Romantic Realism

2021.06.12 - 2021.08.29

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20190817_SCoP Interior_Atrium_04©️Shen Z


Exhibition Duration

June 12, 2021 to

August 29, 2021


Tuesday-Sunday, 10:30-17:30

(last entry 17:00)


Full Price: ¥40 / Student Price: ¥30


“Valery Katsuba: Russian Romantic Realism” selects 38 masterpieces in the creative career of Belarus-born photographer Valery Katsuba, covering more than 10 major series of his works. Katsuba’s works combine Russian-style aesthetics with Western visual culture, a combination of romance and realism. This is the first time in China that audiences will have a chance to enjoy Katsuba’s elegant exploration of the human body and human relations through photography.

Personal Epic in Tides of Time

Valery Katsuba was born in the Republic of Belarus in the Soviet Union. He stands on the foundation of rich creative expression in Russian art history, and pays his own homage to the grand tradition of Russian literature. Katsuba’s works are much inspired by personal experience, the times, and the changing aesthetics of body forms through history. Through the powerful lines of these elegant bodies, his photos speak out the desire for perfection, as well as the yearning for brilliance, beauty and purity that peoples share in common. In a narrative visual language and with his romantic idealism, he has produced a number of “visual novels” in the medium of photography, as if he was writing personal epics in the tides of time.


In his Air Flight (2010-2011), his heroes hang in the air, making posture as arabesque with elegant bodies’ curves; The sculptural bodies in Phiscultura (1998-2008) and The Model: Classic and Contemporary (2008-2019), inheriting the aesthetic traditions of ancient Greece and Rome, are placed in magnificent spaces like grand stairs, palaces, art academies and museums. The tension between perfection and power that reverberates across the picture is amazing and fascinating. while the underlying subtle and opaque metaphors are waiting for viewers to penetrate.

Seeking for Romance in Introspection

Looking at the portraits by Katsuba, we are awed by their charm. The figures in the portraits aspire to be heroes of their time, as indeed some of them are in real life. In his Russian Olympic Project for the Winter Games in Turin (2006), Katsuba takes as models Olympic sportsmen and women, photographed in the rural towns or villages that are their native places. In these precious personal moments of return to their family origins, we see their souls, as well as the dichotomy between their achievements and fragility; Far Away from Home (2004-2014) tells a sailor’s story about love, loss, and the search for new love, where a man escaping from himself eventually begins to turn into a road to himself, a road to home; When turning to Morning (2011-2014), we feel a certain expectation but also the familiar uncertainty that we feel when we embrace a new day or the birth of new things. In either case, nothing obliterates the desire for life.


Even though it is obvious from motifs in Katsuba’s works, like the staged settings, figure's expressions, postures, and the calculated ornaments that this world is unmistakably Russian, the indelible seam of romance - is the one all nationalities share in common, no matter who we are or where we are from. Just as the delicate question posited in all great Russian literature - human emotion is the very core of our existence. At this moment in the grand river of time, seen through the prism of dramatic changes in social economy and culture, the posturing of the figures in his photographs, their often introspective gaze, seem to point as much forward to the self-reliance upon which we will necessarily depend as they direct our gaze back to the past. Through Katsuba’s works, this exhibition tries to encourage viewers to pay attention to the personal life and to find their own romance in reality.


‘Valery Katsuba is a master of aesthetics, and he describes the human body with the precision and elegance of Praxiteles; but within each of those beautiful bodies, he finds a beating heart.’

——Andrew Solomon, writer, psychologists


‘Russian culture is literary; the Western one seen as visual. Valery combines both qualities, so his photographic works are necessarily narrative.’

——Anna Shpakova, curator


‘There is nothing more attractive than the dream of perfection and truth. When Valery Katsuba’s camera captures ballet dancers and dancers in front of Goya’s paintings or copies of antique sculptures… it connects art and life. No triumph can be higher than the vital aspiration of a strong and at the same time fragile human nature.’

——Antonio Bonet, Correa Spanish art historian

About Artist

Valery Katsuba (1965) is an artist working in the realms of photography, video and performance; he also writes stories. His first exhibition took place in the House of Photography in Moscow in 2000. His work can be found in the collections of the Centre Pompidou (Paris), the Russian Museum (St Petersburg), the Museum of the San Fernando Royal Academy of Fine Arts (Madrid) and others. Katsuba lives and works between St Petersburg, Russia and Madrid, Spain.

About Anna Nova Gallery

Anna Nova Gallery, founded in 2005, is currently one of the leading galleries in Russia. The gallery actively supports original and innovative interdisciplinary art practices, producing research-based projects and large-scale installations. In the past few years the gallery has expanded its activities and now aims to discover and promote young artists who work with urgent cultural issues and challenges that our society faces today.

Sarah Vinitz Foundation

Sarah Vinitz Foundation was established to support the realization of art projects on a global level. The Foundation’s mission is to contribute to a quality archive of human endeavor by forging positive and progressive changes in the global cultural code.


SCoP would like to thank the artist for his kind assistance in the preparation of this exhibition. Thanks also go to Anna Nova Gallery for their great assistance in the preparation of the works for this exhibition. Thanks to Sarah Vinitz foundation for their kind support.


We would also like to thank VANKE and Dior for their generous support.

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