Leza Lidow

Body Art for a Mannequin

EXHIBIT. The American artist Leza Lidow suggests playing a game of giant chess. Her one-woman show "Eternal Game" opens on September 3 in the halls of the "Contemporary Russian History Museum. Red and blue human-sized figures are covered with intricate designs: palms of the hands, playing cards, skulls. They are frozen in threatening positions: men on one side, women on the other, and apparently they about to attack, symbolizing, in the artist's conception, the age-old battle of the sexes. In 1995, the installation "Chess Problems," consisting of 32 figures arranged on a chess board measuring 8 x 8 meters, entered the Guinness book of record and was declared the most original design in the history of modern art. Now you can see it in Moscow, along with the artist's other works "the Last "Supper" and "Cloning/"

It is no accident that Leza Lidow has a Russian name: she is a descendent of the dynasty of Dolgorukov princes, the same ones whose name is connected with the founding of Moscow. after the events of October 1917, the artist's family, which was in the diplomatic service in China, did not return to Russia and shard the fate of many emigrants: at the end of 1920, they went to California and ultimately settled in New York. At the age of 17, Leza Lidow married the composer Frederick Hollander, who wrote songs for Marlene Dietrich and music for Hollywood. However, he did not at all share his wife's interest in painting. Even more important for the artist was an encounter with the surrealist Salvador Dali, whose work mad a powerful impression on Leza Lidow.

The artist uses ordinary mannequins as the basis of her installation, covering them with mysterious painting, as if it were some kind of secret writing, body art on plastic skin. And it all started with a chance request from on of Leza Lidow's relatives, who, in 1960, asked to help her decorate a store window. Her work was so successful that visitors stopped in amazement in front of the painted figures.

"The Last Supper" can even be shocking. If only because all 13 figures standing behind the long, coffin like table are clearly female. Ideal figures, sky blue expressionless faces are the "apostles" of Leza Lidow. They are aloof, above it all, and a tiny bid haughty. Their bodies are covered with fine embroidery - a surrealistic puzzle, composed of symbols of goodness and fertility, In the center of the composition is a female Savior, who extends an olive branch to "Judas" in conciliatory manner. "I always draw something in my figures that instills hope," says Leza Lidow "Look for it!"

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