Lev Smorgon
“Melody of Plasticity”
4 May – 29 September, 2024
4 May – 29 September, 2024

The exhibition dedicated to the 95th anniversary of the famous St Petersburg sculptor Lev Smorgon allows one to see his skill and talent that manifested itself in completely different types of art, stone sculpture and children's toys.

What comes to mind when looking at Smorgon's stone sculpture is the word "architectonics". Skillfully connected stone blocks of different sizes form a powerful unity, in which each stone is a kind of ‘lock’ without which the whole may collapse. The sculptor started working with stone at the very end of the 1960s and the 1970s. The heavy, complex material made the artist think in categories completely new to him. Such concepts as massiveness, density, textural features, rhythmic volumes and spatial characteristics had an influence on the imagery. It was granite that immediately became one of the main sources of inspiration for the sculptor. The material had always meant a lot to St Petersburg-Leningrad, having bound its rivers and canals. Since the late 1960s, Smorgon has been executing most of his works in stone from separate fragments like an architect, calculating all the ratios, measuring the volumes, and carefully calibrating the parameters. In an "architectural" way he performed both portraits and thematic compositions with conventional figures or purely abstract forms. Regardless of the subject, Smorgon's sculpture in stone is an eternally lasting melody within an eternal material. It has its own unforgettable rhythms and tonal nuances. It sounds quieter at times, filling with tenderness, and then louder, affirming the power of life.

Designed by Lev Smorgon toys are known to most people who grew up in the Soviet Union. Each of these celluloid figures is easily recognizable; each seems to have its own character, radiating friendly kindness. Smorgon was one of the first toy designers in the post-war USSR. He entered this profession in the mid-1950s and for about twenty years cooperated with the largest toy manufacturers of that time: Okhta Chemical Works, "Lenigrushka" and "Promigrushka" factories; he introduced about a hundred models into production. The typical features of Smorgon dolls are laconism of form, absence of minor details that scatter attention, and precision of lines. It is probably not without reason that similar techniques appear later in his stone sculpture. Smorgon is the author of many new technical solutions. He believed that a good toy is a truly artistic work, designed to develop children's emotional maturity and artistic taste.

Smorgon's work retains its main features, the ability to generalize, to notice characteristic details, expressiveness of silhouette, rhythmic structure and content in two seemingly opposite aspects, heavy stone and light celluloid, architectonic statics and mobility of form, seriousness and playfulness. External simplicity of his works hides the depth of penetration into the world of human characters and feelings, helping one understand oneself and the others.