Grigory Davidovich Bruskin, or how the artist prefers to call himself, Grisha Bruskin is, undoubtedly, one of the most acknowledged and distinguished contemporary Russian artists of Jewish origins in the art world today. Myths and clichés of Socialism and Judaism, as well as sharp political satire, kitsch, and ridicule of blatant nonsense of the Social Realism, are always intertwined in his nonconformist sculptures and paintings. Often imbuing his works with religious, political or commercial propaganda and flavouring it with a high percentage of irony, Bruskin challenges hardened beliefs, systems and even ideologies. His works are presented in the world's leading museums. The artist uses a lot of diverse media, including sculpture, painting, etching.
Bruskin was born on October 21 in 1945 as a fifth child in a big family of a professor of Moscow Power Engineering Institute. He was studying at the Moscow Textile Institute in the art department between 1963 and 1968. In 1969 Bruskin became a member of the Artists' Union of the USSR. Since the early childhood, Bruskin was fascinated by the profession of an artist and imagined an artist as being a wizard, who can transform the world in miraculous ways. The artist was growing up in Moscow during these times when gradually Jews started to be relieved from the stigma and pressure of being someone to blame for all the miseries and sorrow and could express a sense of pride and confidence in their truth. When Marc Chagall unveiled his small exhibition of lithography in the Tretyakov Gallery in Moscow in 1973, Bruskin discovered for himself the almost vanished world of Jewish colonies in Europe before the Holocaust. That world, which he knew only from the books, and started to dream to exhibit his works on Jewish themes. According to the artist's visual works and his books, there is a strong sense that he is proud of his Jewish descent and his delicate attitude to everything that is connected with the history of Jewish people and their constant oppression is clearly visible.
The first exhibition of the artist happened in Moscow House of the Artist on the Kuznetsky Bridge in 1973. Bruskin remembers that the exhibition was difficult to organise and open and he could not invite those people, that he wanted to ask for the opening. His next show was happening in 1982 in Vilnius, Lithuania. At that time the artist perceived the artistic climate in Vilnius as more tolerant and liberal. However, the exhibition was closed soon after the opening because of top-down directives and outright censorship. Notably, the local authorities were outraged by the 'Red Space' painting. Consequently, Bruskin was summoned to the comrade judgement committee in the Artists' Union in Moscow to give an explanation what does the red colour in his painting mean and can it be that he is mocking the Soviet way of life. After this unfortunate event, it was almost no longer possible to exhibit any of Bruskin's work in his homeland.
In 1988, during the famous Sotheby's auction in Moscow (Russian Avant-Garde and Soviet Contemporary Art) Bruskin became world-famous. His painting "Fundamental Lexicon" (1986), which shows the images of typical Soviet citizens, carrying the emblems of official Soviet culture, on the large canvases, was purchased for a record price for a Russian artist in those days. It immediately created a stir and reputation for Bruskin in the West and introduced him as a vivid exemplar of the Russian nonconformist art. After this breaking event and Bruskin's radical turn in his artistic career, he emigrated to New York in 1988 and began to exhibit his works successfully on an international level. In 1999 Bruskin received a commission from the German Government for a monumental artistic project for the restoration of the Reichstag in Berlin. Bruskin is not only a talented artist but is a wonderful storyteller and writer as well: in 2001 he published his first book of memoirs "The Past Imperfect", and since then he is regularly publishing other books. In 2012 the artist received the Kandinsky Prize in the "Project of the Year" category for his project, "H-Hour". Now Bruskin lives and works in New York and Moscow simultaneously.
Gemmell, G. (2015). Russian Artist Grisha Bruskin Interweaves Kitsch and Kabbalah in Nonconformist Paintings and Sculptures. [online] Artsy. Available at: https://www.artsy.net/article/artsy-editorial-russian-artist-grisha-bruskin-interweaves-kitsch-and-kabbalah-in-nonconformist-paintings-and-sculptures
Коробейникова, К. (2017). Художник Гриша Брускин: «Если не смогу больше работать, окажусь в психбольнице». [online] Mk.ru. Available at: http://www.mk.ru/culture/2017/05/09/khudozhnik-grisha-bruskin-esli-ne-smogu-bolshe-rabotat-okazhus-v-psikhbolnice.html
Krasnov, O. (2017). Grisha Bruskin: Russia is more interesting to the West when it is dangerous. [online] Rbth.com. Available at: https://www.rbth.com/arts/2017/03/29/grisha-bruskin-russia-is-more-interesting-to-the-west-when-it-is-dangerous_730385
Runyweb.com. (2010). Счастливый художник Гриша Брускин. [online] Available at: http://www.runyweb.com/articles/culture/art/grisha-bruskin-interview.html