Andrey Tarkovsky: Bright, Bright Day
Whitespace Gallery, St Peter’s Church, Vere St, London, 22 November - 20 January, 2008
Forty-five previously unseen photographs by the legendary Russian filmmaker Andrey Tarkovsky (1932-1986). This touring exhibition coincided with the launch of the book, Bright, bright day, published by White Space Gallery and the Tarkovsky Foundation, as well as the release of a limited edition portfolio of polaroids. These events, and others celebrating the 75th anniversary of the filmmaker’s birth, including screenings at the Curzon Mayfair (7-13 Dec), are part of the Tarkovsky Festival in London (Nov 07- Jan 08).

Andrey Tarkovsky is considered by many to be one of the greatest filmmakers the world has ever seen. Although he made just eight feature films before his life was cut tragically short by cancer, at the age of 54, each is a major landmark in world cinema. The focus of the exhibition is an array of previously unseen polaroids from the Florence-based Tarkovsky Foundation archive, which is maintained by the filmmaker’s son Andrey Tarkovsky. Taken in Russia and Italy between 1979 and 1984, ranging from romantic landscapes and studied portraits to private shots of the auteur’s family and friends – including the distinguished scriptwriter Tonino Guerra – all the photographs demonstrate the singular compositional and visual-poetic ability of this master image-maker. This show pairs Tarkovsky’s polaroids with projected scenes from his movies, emphasizing the total aesthetic vision that pervaded all aspects of his creative life. Many of the polaroids that were created in Russia complement and extend the personal imagery of the film Mirror (1974). Equally rewarding cross-fertilization is apparent in the images that were taken in Italy while he was travelling with Tonino Guerra and preparing Nostalgia (1983). Indeed, from when Michelangelo Antonioni first gave Tarkovsky the Polaroid camera as a gift, in the 1970s, it rarely left his side.

Where does art end and life begin? As this exhibition will make clear, for Tarkovsky there could be no division. Andrey Tarkovsky’s Polaroids coincides with the release of a limited edition portfolio by White Space Gallery and the Tarkovsky Foundation.

The exhibition is accompanied by the launch of the book Bright, bright day at Paris Photo 2007. It features articles by leading critics and the most comprehensive published selection of Tarkovsky’s polaroids, edited by the British photographer Stephen Gill. It also features poems by Arseniy Tarkovsky, Andrey Tarkovsky’s essay on photography and 1930-s Tarkovsky family photographs by Lev Gornung.

This exhibition, along with launch of the Russian edition of the book will continue on to venues in Moscow and Verona in 2008.

The Panel discussion on 21 November brings together leading Tarkovsky experts: Ian Christie, Charles De Brandt, Kitty Hunter Blair, and Andrey Tarkovsky (Jr.) with other personalities from the worlds of theatre and film.

Andrey Arsenievich Tarkovsky was born on 4 April 1932 in Zavrazhie village on the Volga. He was the son of the poet Arseni Tarkovsky and Maria Ivanovna Vishniakova. His parents divorced while he was still a child. His father’s poetry features in Mirror, Stalker and Nostalgia, while his mother makes an appearance in Mirror. Tarkovsky studied Arabic at the Moscow Institute of Oriental Languages between 1951 and 1954 and Geology in Siberia, before enrolling in the famous VGIK Moscow film school in 1959. In 1960 he made his prize-winning graduation short, The Steamroller and the Violin. In the early 1980s, Tarkovsky left Russia permanently. The few remaining years of his life were plagued by a constant struggle with the Soviet authorities to allow his family, particularly his young son, Andrey, to join him. His filmmaking career started again in Italy where he followed the television documentary Tempo di viaggio (1983) with his most accomplished film since Mirror, Nostalgia, written in collaboration with the distinguished screenwriter Tonino Guerra. By the time Tarkovsky started work on his final film, The Sacrifice, he knew he was seriously ill with cancer. He died on 29 December 1986 and was buried at the Russian cemetery Sainte- Geneviève-des-Bois near Paris.

Curated with Anya Stonelake

Films and other productions:
The Steamroller and the Violin (short, 1960)
Ivan’s Childhood (1962)
Andrei Rublev (1966 rel. 1971)
Solaris (1972)
Mirror (1974)
Hamlet (1977) - The Lenkom Theatre (Moscow)
Stalker (1979)
Tempo di viaggio (1983) TV documentary
Nostalgia (1983)
Moussorgsky’s opera Boris Godunov (1983)
Covent Garden (London)
The Sacrifice (1986)

Venice Film Festival, Lion of St. Mark Award, best film, 1962, for Ivan’s Childhood;
Cannes Film Festival, International Critics Award, 1969, for Andrei Rublev;
Cannes Film Festival, Grand Prize of the Jury Award, 1972, for Solaris;
Merited Artistic Worker of the Russian Soviet Federated Socialist
Republic (RSFSR), 1974;
Cannes Film Festival, Grand Prize of the Jury Award, best screenplay, 1983, for Nostalgia;
Cannes Film Festival Award, Prize for First Work-Full Length Films, 1983;
Cannes Film Festival, Grand Prix, 1986, for The Sacrifice;
Cannes Film Festival, Grand Prize of the Jury Award, 1986, for The Sacrifice;
British Academy Film and Television Arts Award, best foreign language film, 1988, for The Sacrifice