Zaha Hadid and Russian Avant-Garde

Photography by Martin Ruestchi

Zaha Hadid has opened an exhibition juxtaposing avant-garde Russian artists with her own work at the Galerie Gmurzynska in Zurich. The exhibition is a complex and carefully curated work, a constant play on 2D and 3D space which acknowledges the debt between Hadid's early work and the utopian spatial experiments of the post revolutionary Russians.

The gallery is located at a prominent position in the Paradeplatz, city square of Zurich and the architects used the window as a starting perspective for a dramatic black and white explosion which covers the walls and floors of the gallery. The effect creates a canvas and interface between the two eras: white for the Russians, black for Hadid.

"It's always a play on projection between 2D and 3D, that's a theme that all the artists were dealing with," says project architect Melodie Leung. "Four themes run through the show; abstraction, flotation, distortion and fragmentation. These are things that run through both Zaha's and the Russian work. What was really interesting was that these connections are already imbedded within all the work, when the drawings or objects are facing each other you find some really interesting dialogues taking place within the show."

When entering the exhibition the explosion distorts according to your own position and the works on the wall become progressively deeper, spatially until a 1980s drawing for an unrealised competition in Berlin is interpreted three dimensions as a wire-frame model, which could almost be climbed into and so the drawings eventually enter three dimension space.

Although the scale is much smaller, the show has some relationship with "The Great Utopia", an exhibition of Russian avant-garde artists curated by Hadid in 1992 at the Guggenheim New York. In that show, Hadid designed it by distorting tectonics with stacked boxes that warped and spiralled around the work. "This links that pivotal exhibition at the Guggenheim and in fact, when you look at the pictures from the window, the first main wall is a re-presentation of The Great Utopia show." Explains Leung. "The wall, where you see black and mirror Perspex is representing all of the drawings and concepts from 92 as a single new drawing."

Among the masterworks selected for the show are pieces by Ilya Chashnik, El Lissitzky, Kasimir Malevich, Alexander Rodchenko and Nikolai Suetin. The show runs until September 25 2010.