Kirill Ivanov. Ice

26 January 2024 — 5 May 2024
  • Kirill Ivanov. Ice

Erarta Museum of Contemporary Art presents an exhibition of photographs by Kirill Ivanov offering a fresh perspective on the true beauty of frozen water

  • An art photographer’s distinctive gaze revealing the magical worlds of ice and snow in their awe-inspiring versatility and magnificence

  • Unusual angles found by a professional alpine skier and climber

  • Mountains captured with an authenticity that no commercial photoshoot can rival


Although this exhibition showcases photographs of mountainscapes, you will not find any of the overly picturesque views typically shot by awestruck amateurs or commissioned professionals. Kirill Ivanov looks at the mountains from a quite literally different angle: he is not just a photographer, but also skier and climber.

Following his first mountaineering experience in the Bezengi camp back in 1998, Kirill became a certified climbing instructor and qualified as candidate master of sports in 2004. In addition to ascents in the Caucasus, the Pamirs, Crimea, Norway, and Italy, he also mastered alpine skiing and freeriding.

The artist tells his story thus: ‘In 2006, I travelled to India, spent four months there and, shortly before my departure, asked Swami Brahmdev, spiritual teacher at the ashram I was staying at, what I should do next. He looked at the Panasonic point and shoot camera in my hands and replied, ‘Photograph!’ Gave me a blessing, so to say. The following year that camera broke, so I borrowed my friend’s Zenit. That’s how it all began. Next came my first workshop with the Italian photographer Paolo Dell’Elce. He taught us profundity and depth that I keep searching for, at times vainly, in my practice and explained that photography is a means of communicating with the world. I went on to study at the Yury Galperin School for Press Photographers where Pavel Markin instructed us to be hardworking, shared the basic principles of photography ethics and gave many useful tips.’

It was the experience of alpine skiing and freeriding that gave Kirill the special optics required to distinguish the different textures of snow and types of ice. The success of every ascent and descent ultimately depends on this essential skill.

The intent gaze of an art photographer also helped reveal the inherent beauty: ‘Despite the cold, our 2008 Khibiny expedition was fun. I was captivated by the sculptural sastrugi and the snow blown over them, but the pictures did not come out well. In 2015, I took a series of nice vertical shots of ice at the Bezengi glacier in the Caucasus and realised that the photographs of differently frozen ice can make up an art show.’

The sastrugi are sharp wavelike snow ridges formed through the erosion of snow by wind. The world is part of the special lingo used by skiers, freeriders, and mountaineers to describe various types of snow and ice which also includes terms like clear ice, brittle ice, firn, névé, ferglas, hard rime, broth, glaze, sludge, etc. An attentive viewer may try to spot all these varieties in the pictures on display.

The mountains photographed by Kirill Ivanov obtain a human dimension: they no longer seem overwhelming in their beauty and grandeur. Here, snow and ice turn into abstract paintings while landscapes appear as pieces of graphic art.

about the artist

Kirill Ivanov was born in Leningrad in 1978. In 2008, he took part in a creative workshop presented by the Italian photographer Paolo Dell’Elce, and in 2011, graduated from the Yury Galperin School for Press Photographers under the auspices of the St. Petersburg House of Journalists. His photographs have been exhibited at the State Hermitage Youth Education Centre, Manege Central Exhibition Hall and Russian Museum in St. Petersburg, Central House of Artists in Moscow, and Apatite Museum and Exhibition Centre in Kirovsk, Murmansk Oblast.

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