back in july, i spent a week in kiev. my parents had told me a thousand stories about this beautiful city, so, when i had the chance, i took it. but i like to see the future not the past when i travel so i was worried that perhaps the balance between the two will not be even there. researching in a hurry, just hours before my tiny plane took off, i looked up the venue for last year’s damien hirst recquiem show and i came across what later became the center of the city for me: the pinchuk art center.

viktor pinchuk is a ukrainian-jewish billionaire with a penchant for, among others, contemporary art. in 2006, he established the eponymous contemporary art center which organizes amazing contemporary art shows that are open to the public for no fee (keep in mind the fact that a smile-free pair of ukrainian bodyguards will inspect your bag). it is obviously a great idea if we consider that around 1 million people has come to see what the center had on offer.

last december, mr. pinchuk announced the future generation art prize, worth 100,000 usd, to be awarded every two years to artists under the age of 35. the businessman announced that the jury will include elton john, eli broad, richard armstrong, glenn d. lowry and miuccia prada and that damien hirst, jeff koons and andreas gursky will act as mentors for the short-listed.

if during my stay i saw the sexuality and transcendence. the third reality show, an amazing selection of top artists including anish kapoor, jeff koons, paul maccarthyrichard princecindy sherman, matthew barney, takashi murakami, the late louise bourgeois and others, the center opens in october the showcase of the 21 finalists of the future generation art prize.

the center includes a small gift shop, a media room and a vegetarian bistro, the skyartcafe, which is a destination in itself. the service is flawless, the menu and presentation are innovative and the all-white décor gives a remarkable 2001: a space odyssey atmosphere.

the center also has an extensive education program including family days, lectures and guided tours, everything a good museum should cover in order to bring high art to the people.

i visited the center three times, as it was central and cool and cost-free. and i liked it a lot, i was even considering coming back for future shows.

sexuality and transcendence was absolutely worth the visit: a great selection of pieces from the world’s hottest artists. there were a series of presentation videos including explanatory bits by the curator and by some of the artists. jeff koons was saying that “a sculpture has a presence, that’s undeniable” and i completely agree but all i could do was check his steel balloon dog and think that it must be made of pieces, transported and fitted together on-site. i’m always thinking of art logistics. i think an idea is great but getting it done is a completely different matter. i know they’re using assistants but i’m always fascinated, trying to figure out the mechanisms.

apart from the fake inflatable pieces and the huge faux diamond ring on which i found a (very much alive and real) fly, there was a koons self portrait in marble, with flowery nipples, from the period when he was married to cicciolina and his art was inspired by their relationship.

among the selection of richard prince pieces, there was a little cabinet full of little nurses’ hats, as if they were trophies. perhaps some of you remember the influence his nurse-heavy art had on marc jacobs a few seasons ago.

the (other jacobs collaborator) murakami display included a couple of life-size hentai figurines: my lonesome cowboy and hiropon. the ass of the she-thing was perfect and so were the thighs. how does he do this? does he use a toy manufacturer? possibly. her nipples fill her hands and the holes are square to allow the loop of milk. her manga eyes are vacant and her pretty face looks stupid, under the mane of pink hair. i read somewhere that the 1/1 masturbating boy was sold at a sotheby’s auction for 15.2 million usd.

i wonder about how art pieces travel and how they get cleaned. a regular cleaner gets to rub the perfect curves of the manga bubble head? or the thousand facets of kapoor’s steel thing? or the polished steel koons? could it be? so many questions not many can answer…

anyhow, do not miss checking it out when you’re in kiev. it is certainly the second greatest attraction after the perfect ukrainian dolls everywhere…

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credits: pinchuk art center and lilaesthete