= The Crawford Arts Review: February 2015

Wednesday, 25 February 2015

Until Saturday

GRAD, Gallery for Russian Arts and Design 3-4a Little Portland Street London W1   

UNTIL Saturday 28 February - original designs, photographs and costumes for Dmitri Shostakovich’s 1931 ballet ‘The Bolt’ 


Quote from the Composer:
“I live in the USSR, work actively
and count naturally on the worker and peasant
spectator. If I am not comprehensible to them
I should be deported.”

Shostakovich in discussion with an opera
audience, January 14, 1930; cited from
Laurel Fay Shostakovich: A Life (2000) p. 55

Friday, 6 February 2015

 Opening Thursday 12 February: Late Rembrandt at the Rijksmuseum Amsterdam
  – ends Sunday 17 May

Art & Design with some Balletic Shostakovich
Enter Great Portland Street from Oxford Street, take the third street on the left and you will find new gallery GRAD. It’s aptly named – University of Westminster buildings are all over this section of London. GRAD stands for the Gallery for Russian Arts and Design and I am drawing it to your attention because not only is it in one of the West End’s most delightful small streets, Little Portland Street, but the gallery is crammed with surprises.

The current exhibition, open until Saturday 28 February, is of a Russian ballet, Bolt (the metal  pin variety), scored by Dmitri Shostakovich, choreographed by Fedor Lopukhov and with costumes and set design by Tatiana Bruni.

Tatiana Bruni's designs are a revelation. The production’s plot centres around a drunken factory conspiracy in Soviet times and Bruni produces a dazzling array of pompous, well-meaning or ne’re-do-well characters. 

Working on paper and using gouache and watercolour, her style uses colour blocking (see pics below) and abstract, pleasingly geometric, design. No matter that the production was officially received as too “satirical” and promptly banned. We have it here as fresh as if it was created yesterday.

Tatiana Bruni, Costume Design for ‘The Bolt’,
1931, The Drunkard. Gouache and watercolour
on paper, Courtesy GRAD and St Petersburg
State Museum of Theatre and Music

Tatiana Bruni, Costume Design for ‘The Bolt’,
1931, Olga. Gouache and watercolour
on paper, Courtesy GRAD and St Petersburg
State Museum of Theatre and Music
For your reviewer, the authentic voice of Russia has always lain within its literature, its music and its visual arts. It seems fitting that GRAD, with its focus on Russian arts and design, has located itself right in the heart of the design and fashion district that once served the great emporia of Oxford Street and, thanks to Crossrail, is presently reinventing itself as an international retail and art destination.

Exhibition curated by Elena Sudakova, Alexandra Chiria and Elena Grushvitskaya in collaboration with the St Petersburg State Museum of Theatre and Music.


GRAD, 34a Little Portland Street, West End, London W1
Open 11am– 7pm Tuesday to Friday and 11am–5pm Saturdays
Free with discretionary contribution
until Saturday 28 February