Kon Trubkovich
On June 12, 1987, President Ronald Reagan stood in front of the famed Brandenburg Gate, a checkpoint between East and West Berlin, and before a crowd of 20,000 cheering Germans, urged Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev to tear down the Berlin Wall. Russian-born artist Kon Trubkovich does not recall watching this fateful speech. For Trubkovich, the events of June 12, 1987, belong to a shared consciousness, forming a pivotal moment in history that happened to everyone and no one at the same time. Trubkovich, who immigrated to the United States when he was eleven years old, explains that he feels little connection to his life in the former Eastern Bloc, largely because the Soviet Union he knew no longer exists. As such, the notion of disconnection—from places, people, and experiences—features prominently in his work.

What's Pictured: (above right) Kon Trubkovich (b. 1979, Moscow), Untitled, 2015, graphite on paper, six sheets, each: 29 x 22 in., Courtesy the artist and Marianne Boesky Gallery, New York, © Kon Trubkovich Photo credit: Jason Wyche; (below left) My soul doesn’t have one grey hair, 2014, oil on canvas, 72 x 60 inches, Courtesy the artist and Marianne Boesky Gallery, New York, © Kon Trubkovich, Photo credit: Jason Wyche

Trubkovich’s Riley CAP Gallery exhibition draws from a project the artist began in 2011 that calls upon his own memories as well as our collective capacity to remember. Once finished, this new body of work will encompass 48 paintings—24 depicting his mother and 24 featuring Ronald Reagan. Each set of paintings correlates to one second, or 24 frames, of video footage, the former taken during a going away party before the artist’s family left Russia, the latter from the Brandenburg Gate speech. While viewing video footage on a screen, the artist isolates specific frames by pausing the tape. He then translates these moments into drawings and paintings, distorting and abstracting the original images to mimic the visual disintegration inherent in the video medium and to call attention to the fragility of memory. The artist is adamant that painting something repeatedly does not stem from a desire to forge a connection with a lost memory, but rather is a way to unload an image of its connotations and remind us of how powerful the passage of time can be. At Joslyn, Trubkovich presents a Reagan painting completed in 2014 alongside a selection of small drawings created specifically for this exhibition and a recently-completed video piece inspired by the folk song “House of the Rising Sun.”

Exhibition-Related Program

Thursday, August 20 @ 6:30 pm (cash bar @ 5 pm)
A Talk with Kon Trubkovich
Kon Trubkovich will discuss his work and this Riley CAP Gallery exhibition. Held in the Abbott Lecture Hall, this Late ‘til 8 Thursday program is free to the public.

The Karen and Doug Riley Contemporary Artists Project Gallery

A 500-square-foot space in the Scott Pavilion suite of galleries, the Riley CAP Gallery showcases nationally- and internationally-recognized artists, as well as emerging talent, selected by Joslyn curators. A rotating schedule of intimate, carefully focused exhibitions will examine how artists engage with the world and respond to the issues that challenge them creatively, bringing new perspectives on contemporary art to Nebraska.

Riley CAP Gallery artists will be invited to Joslyn for lectures and other public programs, giving audiences the opportunity to gain insight into creative processes and contribute to an expanded dialogue about new art. The first Joslyn gallery dedicated exclusively to living artists, the Riley CAP Gallery represents an important step in making contemporary art an even more integral component of the Museum’s exhibition programming.