1 February 2014

Kino/Film: Soviet Posters of the Silent Screen at GRAD

I like London's big show-piece art galleries (National, Tate, etc.) and these are neatly complemented by a myriad of smaller ones that increase the diversity of art on display. Places like GRAD.

GRAD, the Gallery for Russian Arts and Design, is the sort of place that I should have known about earlier but didn't. Enlightenment came via Londonist, and not for the first time.

I have mentioned my love of Soviet-style art several times previously so this exhibition was close to unmissable.

GRAD is a small gallery with just one reasonably sized room, much like the commercial picture galleries in nearby Mayfair or one of the smaller rooms at Tate Modern.

That was still plenty enough space to hold around twenty large and well spaced film posters together with half a dozen screens showing excerpts from some of those films.

Obviously I did not know any of the films and I could not read any of the posters (I guessed Battleship Potyomkin) but that did nothing to curtail my enjoyment of the exhibition. I can read pictures and the films were silent anyway.




My favourite posters and associated film clip boasted of some of the post-revolution industrialisation of Russia; the poster on the right says "cement" and the one next to it is "oil".

The long film clip showed the railway being built across Mongolia and the resultant modernisation of industry and agriculture.

It was a slow and very artistic piece, for example there were some unusual camera angles used as the train moved across the desert. It was a fascinating look at history and I watched the clip all the way through, which must have been ten minutes or so. Who can resist steam trains?

The exhibition was a nicely presented little gem. The posters were grouped sensibly and arranged against an attractive grey background, a pleasant change from the common stark white. In the centre of the room were a few block seats which made viewing the clips more comfortable.

And it was free. And they allowed photographs provide they were taken just for personal use. I like those two characteristics in a gallery.

My arty day in London got off to an excellent start thanks to GRAD.

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