Free Gallery Exhibition on Soviet Nonconformist Artist Open Through February

NEW BRUNSWICK, NJ—A new gallery exhibition on Soviet dissident artist and painter Vagrich Bakchanyan will be opening at the Zimmerli Art Museum on Saturday, October 24.

Entitled “Vagrich Bakhchanyan: Accidental Absurdity,” the gallery will be hosted in the Dodge Wing Lower Level section of the museum, and will feature artwork throughout Bakhchanyan’s career.

The exhibition will be open to the public starting Saturday, and will run until February 27, 2016.

Admission for the gallery will be free for all, as per the Zimmerli’s introduction of free admissions last year.  The museum is located on the Rutgers campus at the instersection of George and Hamilton Streets.

Bakchanyan’s satirical work was monumentally influential amongst his fellow nonconformist artists, deeply impacting Soviet dissident culture.

According to the official Zimmerli gallery website, he highlighted absurdity in the Soviet Union by creating nonconformist collages and mixed media pieces which were "minimally altered from their everyday appearances,” revealing "the fine line that can separate normality from madness, banality from absurdity, platitude from blasphemy.”

In particular, the Zimmerli gallery highlights the ways in which Bakhchanyan "broadened the range of expressive possibilities for other nonconformist artists,” the website notes.

Bakchanyan, who passed away in 2009, grew up in the Soviet Union during the height of the Cold War.

After living in Moscow during the 1960s, he later emigrated to the United States in 1974 — working alongside such Soviet writers as Sergei Dovlatov and Alexander Genis while living in New York City.

Today, collections of Bakchanyan’s work reside across the world, in such museums as the Museum of Modern Art in New York City, the Museum of National Arts of Ukraine in Kyiv, the National Centre for Contemporary Art in Moscow, and the John Paul Getty Research Center and Museum in Los Angeles.

Saturday’s Zimmerli gallery exhibition features 60 works directly from the museum’s Nancy and Norton Dodge Collection of Nonconformist Art from the Soviet Union.

The gallery was organized by Associate Curator of Russian and Nonconformist Art Julia Tulovsky, and both the gallery and scholarly catalogue were supported by the Avenir Foundation Endowment Fund.

Originally founded in 1966, the Zimmerli Art Museum is a university-affiliated art museum dedicated to showcasing and displaying artwork from a variety of cultures, viewpoints, and perspectives.

The museum hosts 60,000 artifacts from European, American, and Russian artists, and offers a membership program for interested visitors.