Alexander Brodsky Villa Nautilus 1990

Alexander Brodsky and Ilya Utkin, Villa Nautilus 1990
Etching on paper
734 x 590mm
Presented by Frayda and Ronald Feldman (Tate Americas Foundation) 2013 
© Alexander Brodsky and Ilya Utkin

The imaginary architectures of Alexander Brodsky and Ilya Utkin rethink the city as a dream landscape, blending memories of the past with visions for the future. 

Russian artists Brodsky and Utkin first met at the Moscow Institute of Architecture in 1972, and developed distinct practices combining architecture with fine art. They became part of an informal movement known as the ‘Paper Architects’, who produced elaborate, impossible designs. Contrasting markedly with the austere utilitarianism of the Soviet Union in the 1970s and 1980s, this approach became an oblique form of architectural criticism. 

From the early 1980s, Brodsky and Utkin collaborated primarily on etchings, working on each copper plate for years. Their dense style of engraving emulates the antique appearance of prints from the eighteenth or nineteenth centuries. 

The etchings in this display are all taken from their Projects portfolio (1980-90) and draw upon a variety of architectural, literary and visual sources, from classical mythology to science fiction. They depict absurd proposals and fictional cityscapes as eclectic mixes of ancient mausoleums, early industrial structures, neoclassical utopias and constructivist towers. Some of them present the modern metropolis as oppressive and alienating, reflecting the experience of living under a totalitarian regime.

In 1993 Brodsky and Utkin ended their collaboration in order to pursue their individual practices. Brodsky’s sculpture The Factory 2012, made out of brittle unfired clay, presents an industrial building as a ruin, a sombre relic of the economic system at the core of Soviet ideology, which now lies abandoned and dilapidated. 

Alexander Brodsky was born in 1955 in Moscow, where he lives and works. 
Ilya Utkin was born in 1955 in Moscow, where he lives and works.

Curated by Juliet Bingham, text by Valentina Ravaglia.