Erarta Museum presented a retrospective exhibition by the Russian digital art pioneers — Doping Pong art collective
A ‘Greatest Hits’ show spotlighting all the aspects of the group’s creative output over a span of 20 years
Playful reinvention of the clichéd images of young pioneers, cosmonauts, and athletes
Creators of the controversial advertising campaign for the Sochi Olympic village
Renowned digital art pioneers, Doping Pong have recently turned into avid practitioners of traditional painting. The artistic collective’s retrospective at Erarta Museum features their most celebrated works — from digital art of the late 1990s to the latest creations in the New Russian Romanticism style of the 2010s. Some of them, like Salute! and Gagarin, have already become instantly recognizable, gaining wide popularity far beyond the artistic community. At the same time, the images presented here are not often identified by the casual viewer as coming from the same creative source. All the more interesting to realise that the iconic imagery of the present times created in different years over almost a quarter of a century can be traced back to a single artistic entity which is Doping Pong.
The title Our Everything! is not for nothing: to begin with, it reflects the approach to exhibit selection which bears semblance to the editing of selected writings volumes or production of greatest hits collections; here, too, we see only the greatest art hits encapsulating the 20 years of creative endeavours, from Salute! which rose to the status of a nationwide symbol to Young Pioneer Removing a Splinter. The title also conceals a second meaning: Doping Pong’s most widely known characters — young pioneers, cosmonauts, athletes — truly represent ‘our everything’ in art for several generations of Russian viewers. For some, this exhibition will be a chance to encounter familiar and long-loved images, while others will be engrossed by a beautiful new world — a whole realm of contemporary Russian art at the turn of the 21st century.
The exhibition space is organised in such a way as to let the viewers see the most popular artworks by Doping Pong in every medium chosen by the collective — from digital art to oil on canvas, — quite often selected by the general public itself, disseminated through Internet channels and mass media, tried by time and mass admiration. The show’s highlights range from the monumental Olympic Panel, created as part of the advertising campaign for Gorky Gorod Olympic media village in Sochi and having caused an international stir; through the Childhood Love for Planes showcased in the digital art zone; culminating, of course, in the oil on canvas portrait of Yuri Gagarin painted in the 21st century in the traditional manner — simply put, everything that justifies the group’s prominent status for its die-hard fans. Welcome to the Doping Pong world!
Doping Pong was founded in 1997 in St. Petersburg by journalist Dmitry Mishenin, artist PostoronnimV, and historian Anna Maugli, all credited for multiple cultural initiatives. Doping Pong designed the first Russian-language edition of Irvine Welsh’s Ecstasy and revived Viktor Tsoi’s film character in graphic form for Rashid Nugmanov’s The Needle Remix. The group received numerous design awards, scooping up the prestigious DIAwards prize for Russia’s most innovative web site in 2004.
Over the years, Doping Pong’s artworks were exhibited in major museums in Russia and abroad, and are currently present both in state and private collections.
In 2018, Doping Pong represented Russia at the New Classics group show at Galerie C.O.A. in Montreal which featured the works by contemporary artists reimagining classic art.