Born in 1981 in Brovary, Ukraine, Zhanna Kadyrova frequented the National Shevchenko Art School in Kyiv (Kiev). As student of the sculpture department, she got a very classical education, with old academic standards. After leaving the art school, the young artist found her material relatively quickly: the tile. Nevertheless, she works not only within the confines of this media but also uses other very different techniques to create her visual communication systems, as Olena Chervonik mentioned in the artist’s catalogue from 2013. Besides various applications of tiles, Zhanna works inter alia with photography, newspaper cut outs, cement, asphalt, bricks and objects of daily life.
Early, she explored public space and was one of the first Ukrainian artists who made side-specific installations, often in cooperation with local people. During the Orange Revolution, she became co-founder and member of the R.E.P. (Revolutionary Experimental Space) and was soon recognised in public. Already since 2002, she participated in several group exhibitions, first in the Ukraine and Russia, but shortly after also in other European countries and the United States. Quickly, she had her first solo exhibitions. Besides residencies in the Ukraine, Germany, Poland, Norway and Montenegro, the artist was in 2014 in Sao Paulo, Brazil. Here she held her first solo show in a Latin American country: “Street Collection” at the Baro galeria.
“Street Collection” was the first part of the later tile garment series “Second Hand”. Inspired by the widespread Brazilian practice of building decoration with coloured tiles, Zhanna bought second hand tiles to reuse them for her objects. One year later, she intervened in her home country on the territory of the Darnitski Silk Factory in Kyiv. This project is our artwork of the month October 2019. In 2017, the artist pointed at the nuclear accident in Chernobyl, by creating a dress for a mannequin out of tiles from the bus station of the Chernobyl township Polesskoye. Like in the previous works, she duplicated the patterns of the original façade, though the dress is not flat as before, but could be worn. Also in 2017, Zhanna was active in the abandoned Kyiv Film Copy Factory. Here she proceeded similarly to the venture in the Darnitski Silk Factory. She explored the long changeful history of the once largest Soviet film copy institution and its successor company, including the diverse usage of the territory. A few months after the Gogolfest, of which the project was a part, the building was demolished to give place to a residential, shopping and entertainment complex.
For the exhibition “Permiso para el cóctel” at Galleria Continua’s branch in Cuba (2019), Zhanna created a garment collection with tiles from old Havana Streets. The most recent part of “Second Hand” is conceived for the 2019 Venice Biennale. Out of tiles from the Hotel All’Angelo in town, the artist made socks, underwear and clothes. In the famous exhibition, they are presented like laundry hanging on a clothesline outside the Central Pavilion of the Giardini.
As already mentioned, Zhanna started early to work with tiles. In 2004, she made “Tolya, the Plumber”. It was her first figurative sculpture and there were many others to follow. The tiles are for most part fragmented to follow the form or structure of the objects. In contrast, the artist uses for “Second Hand” almost the entire tile, to portray the structure of their initial installation.
However, regardless the treatment of the tiles or the work with other materials, Zhanna questions society, history and its impact and the visibility of both in urban space. Associated to that is the dichotomy between private and public, which the artist picks up in her installations in public space, but not only. For this propose, she was honoured with several national and international awards. Currently parts of her series “Second Hand” and “Market” (2017-2018) are on view at the Venice Biennale until 25th November. Furthermore, the French branch of the Galleria Continua in Les Moulins will open a solo show on October 13th, 2019.
Zhanna Kadyrova lives and works in Kyiv.