Salvation by Gregory Orekhov in Venice

Published on May 10, 2019

On 9th of May Gregory Orekhov’s installation entitled Salvation was officially opened for public in Venice. The metaphor of saving the facade of a venetian palazzo is an artistic intervention, a visual SOS, a public call to search for historical, social and spiritual salvation of the world.

The site-specific installation evokes the feeling of a conflict among the audience that witnesses a contradiction between institutional criticism, on one hand, and material nature of objects, on the other. Those who saw the installation that night were bound to take it in on a perceptual level. Being non-commercial in its nature, Venice biennale is a favorite platform to criticize commodification of art and turn towards institutional tools (fairs, galleries, auctions) that make this practice culturally legitimate. Those who attended the inauguration of Salvation could make their own choice using their instincts: inquire about the price and buy one of the life savers, take one free of charge or simply observe. “Every time my goal is to create art that touches the soul. I certainly do not think that an artist should attempt to pose as a Savior, but rather play a modest, yet an essential role – to give people a life saver...”, Gregory Orekhov.

The first image of a life saver dates back to the XV century and was made by Leonardo da Vinci.


The installation was meant as a step outside of the strictly aesthetic sphere into socio-political and historical ground. It’s not by chance that the opening of Gregory Orekhov’s Salvation took place on the Victory day, Russia’s important public holiday commemorating the official end of World War II, a terrifying, brutal and violent fight of the World against fascism. In Russia, there’s still a predominant view that it was Joseph Stalin, Supreme Commander-in Chief of the Soviet Union, was the one who played a key role in crashing the Nazi Germany. Many consider him as a savior. Nevertheless, facts and numbers show that it wasn’t Stalin who won the war, but rather the people, despite the actions of the Supreme Commander whose mistakes and repressions only increased the price of the war that had already been very high.