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Ester Petukhova, Burgeoning Blue Screen, 2022, acrylic on shaped panel, 28 x 29 x 1/2 in. (71.1 x 73.7 x 1.3 cm.)

Ester Petukhova:
If and When You Find Me

(curated by Sean Beauford)
July 7 – August 12, 2023

527 N. Taylor Avenue
Pittsburgh, PA 15212

here, Pittsburgh is pleased to present If and When you Find Me, a solo exhibition by Pittsburgh-based artist, Ester Petukhova. The opening reception will take place on Friday, July 7th, from 6 to 8pm.

In If and When You Find Me, Ester Petukhova presents a body of work exploring post-Soviet identity in a digital age that still finds itself deeply rooted in censorship. An assortment of distinct, yet interconnected references spanning timelines, borders, and generations create multiple starting points for the post-Soviet body to work from all in an attempt to chart a path forward.

While considering the dissolution of the USSR, and its subsequent severance of nationhood, culture, and family ties, Petukhova created six paintings that physically index and breathe life into media, tradition, and memory. The work guides our search, reminding us along the way that discovery itself is a privilege seldom afforded to the post-Soviet person. In her paintings, the artist looks toward that which stitches histories together across generations, while also pointing out the precarity of its threading. For example, in Alla Alignment, and Pizza Power Play (1998), Petukhova looks at the celebrity and animated series, respectively, and their presence in both Soviet and post-Soviet worlds, and their roles in maintaining connection across generations distanced by the USSR’s collapse.

Elsewhere in the exhibition, Petukhova examines how geographic location influences the post-Soviet relationship to information, whether by preventing access, indexing bodies, or erasing histories once thought to be permanent. The paintings themselves are dislodged fragments, exploded, and staggered. Ultimately, this exhibition is a meditation on looking, with each piece gesturing toward the difficulty of doing so in a post-Soviet present, making the pursuit of finding a future all the more necessary, despite there being no guarantee it will be found.

– Sean Beauford

Ester Petukhova (b. 2000, Vologda, Russia) received her B.F.A. from Carnegie Mellon University, Pittsburgh. Recent exhibitions include If It's Not Baroque, Don't Fix It, Tchotchke Gallery, New York, NY (2022); Bedroom Show, Columbia University, Postcrypt Art Gallery, New York, NY (2021) and Ester Petukhova in the Fish Bowl, Blackfish Gallery, Portland, OR (2019). Petukhova is the recipient of the Dara Birnbaum Art Award from Carnegie Mellon Univeristy, PA (2023). The artist currently lives and works in Pittsburgh, PA.

Sean Beauford is a writer, curator, and educator based in Pittsburgh, PA. Currently, Beauford is the manager of community relations at the Carnegie Museum of Art and an adjunct professor at Carnegie Mellon University. He also works alongside Duolingo as a community engagement specialist.