Sergey Maslov

1952 - 2002

Born in Samara (formerly Kuybyshev) (RU), died in Almaty (KZ).

Sergey Maslov is known as “the mythmaker” of contemporary art in Kazakhstan. Maslov was born into the nomenklatura, the privileged and politically trustworthy Soviet elite. His parents were prominent journalists, and this meant he had more access to information about the outside world than the average citizen. After earning a PhD in pedagogy, Maslov started lecturing at the arts faculty of the Teachers' Training institute in Semipalatinsk, Kazakhstan, and came into art in the mid-1980s through contacts with the unofficial art scene in Moscow.

In the late 1980s, the period of perestroika ('reconstruction'), he founded the group Nochnoi tramvai (Night Tram') in Almaty together with the artist Alexander Popov. He considered children's art a powerful antidote to the cultural and mental corruption of society in the late Soviet period, but a planned Children's Art Museum could not be realised in the economic and political situation following Kazakhstan's independence in 1991.

Maslov was dismissed from his teaching position at the Art Academy in Almaty after painting with his own blood in the performance Vostok disleretnyi ("The Orient Is Discreet). During the last years of his life, he supported himself as a night guard at the Voyager gallery in Almaty.

In 1998, at the first annual exhibition of the Soros Center for Contemporary Art in Almaty (funded by the Hungarian-American financier George Soros), Maslov staged one of his most legendary myths. He exhibited a photograph of himself in a coffin, apparently after dying from an unhappy love affair with Whitney Houston. There were also six framed letters from their (fictitious) correspondence.

At the time of his untimely death in 2002 Maslov had just received a grant from the Soros Center to write a novel about contemporary Kazakh artists in space. He had also developed a computer slideshow about extraterrestrials and Kazakhs, to be shown inside a yurt (the traditional circular tent of the Central Asian nomads). That project, Baikonur 2 (2001) is now in the M HKA collection, acquired in connection with the exhibition series Europe at Large.

Maslov left behind numerous drawings, paintings, films, manuscripts, and other projects. M HKA received twelve paintings from Maslov's Dream series (1982-2000) as a donation, and also owns one of his sketchbooks and the work Survival Instruction for Citizens of the Former USSR (1998) in the reconstructed form in which it was presented by Viktor Vorobyev and Elena Vorobyeva in the first Central Asian Pavilion (curated by Viktor Misiano) at the Venice Biennial in 2005.


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