Multimedia Art Museum Moscow

18 September - 17 November 2019

Curated by Svetlana Marich

‘Lobster Land’, was first exhibition in Russia by iconic British artist and designer Philip Colbert. Philip Colbert was born in Scotland and graduated with an MA in Philosophy from the University of St Andrews. He lives and works in London.

After founding the trendsetting British label The Rodnik Band in 2008, Philip Colbert accomplished a veritable revolution in the fashion industry. Dresses with motifs from Marcel Duchamp, Andy Warhol, Salvador Dali and others raised a storm in the media and delighted celebrities. In no time Anna Dello Russo, Elton John, Lady Gaga, Kanye West and members of the British royal family numbered among Colbert’s fans. The solo exhibitions ‘New Paintings’ and ‘Hunt Paintings’ at the Saatchi Gallery in 2017 and 2018 showed Philip Colbert’s epic large-scale pictures on canvas, inspired by the work of popart stars Richard Hamilton, Roy Lichtenstein and James Rosenquist. These crossed motifs from old master paintings with everyday symbols of mass contemporary culture and brought Colbert recognition on the international art scene. Philip Colbert was recently dubbed ‘Andy Warhol’s godson’.

‘I became an artist when I became a Lobster,’ Philip Colbert admits. The cartoon persona invented by him is a cute crustacean in a navy ‘fried egg’ suit — the lead character in nearly all the artist’s work. With his help Colbert combines the traditions of pop art with contemporary digital culture in virtuoso fashion, emphasizing the hyper-saturation of the modern world and the insatiable appetites of consumer society.
‘I think the duality in my works is expressed primarily in the use of very bright colors — festive, positive and cheerful, which convey constructive energy, but at the same time with grim, dark overtones, scenes of violence, as well as a reflection of the modern cult of consumption and its negative effect on our planet,’ the artist explains.

The MAMM exhibition included selected works by Philip Colbert from private and museum collections, and also a new series of Lobster Land paintings and sculptures specially created for the Moscow exhibition. Works expressed in a hyper-realistic pictorial manner contain references to the history of Russian art, which has clearly influenced his oeuvre.

‘I’m really excited to be doing my first solo show in Moscow at the Multimedia Art Museum. It’s exciting to work with the gallery director Olga Sviblova who has such amazing experience working on groundbreaking shows. Curator Svetlana Marich brought me to Moscow last year on a fun art trip, and it was her amazing energy and support that made «Lobster Land» come alive in Moscow,’ says Philip Colbert. ‘I was always fascinated by Russian art history and read a lot on it when I was younger. I was obsessed with Diaghilev’s «Ballets Russes» and studied artists like the amazing Natalia Goncharova. I loved Alexandra Exter’s costume designs, the abstractions of Kazimir Malevich, the powerful expressive painter Mikhail Larionov. These works had a big influence on my artistic thinking'

Philip Colbert, Dark Hunt Triptych, 2018. Photo courtesy of Philip Colbert.


In an age in which the speed, scale and accessibility of creativity often denies its full meaning, artistic endeavours are quickly copied, co-opted and commodified into superficial faux-cultural entities which briefly trend before their likes fizzle out and the hive mind of the internet moves onto something new. Colbert’s work not only acknowledges this strange phenomenon, but circumvents it entirely. He inverts the trend, commodifying this fast-paced disregard for imagery and genre into frenetic pop-culture landscapes rife with symbolism and satyr. Thus, is born Lobsterland, a hyper-real, hyper-fictional world in which the Lobster, Colbert’s alter ego, reigns supreme.

Colbert playfully mixes the monetising visuals of the modern digital age with recognisable artistic touchstones; drawing on a plethora of contemporary and historical imagery, blending high art and Instagram to create a unique, carnivalesque understanding of our world, one in which the viewer is in on a joke made at their own expense.

After the death of God, man has been left alone with too much freedom. Philip Colbert’s work exists within the vacuum left by humanism. In times such as these, when our belief in science, religion and morality are fractured art is often the first articulation of these precarious undercurrents of doubt. He rejects our world and its limitations, creating his own instead, one where he can construct new systems of faith and identity, free from not only established dogma, but also the lack of it.

Colbert helps us see the absurdity of the world in which his work presides, adopting its zeitgeists only to subvert them. His understanding of the dialogue between ‘pop-art’ and ‘pop-culture’ gives his work a powerful sense of both immediacy and history, acknowledging their inevitable contextualisation while resolutely creating his own narrative.

In essence his work is all about control. Control of the zeitgeist, control of pace, control of context and perhaps most importantly, control of identity. The freedom of expression and opportunities for personal representation offered by the internet produces a hitherto unseen and near overwhelming need for identity. We now live duplicitous lives, existing on both a physical and a digital plane of reality, with the divide between and relative importance of the two becoming ever more uncertain. The lobster transcends this duplicity, bridging the gap between the two realities by creating its own and in doing so provides Colbert a buffer between art and reality and inversely, reality and art.

Colbert can play freely with creativity in both realms while insulating himself from the impediments of either, the Lobster is a vehicle which affords the artists an otherwise untenable freedom of expression in its contradictory ability to both be and not be the artist. In this an intriguing parallel is born. The hyper-performance of Colbert as the Lobster is in a way the logical conclusion of the facades of social media, a total separation from self while simultaneously a complete expression of identity. The Lobster is a personal brand living a disparate yet analogous existence to Colbert, it is both a shield from and a loudspeaker into reality. In this Colbert creates a carefully curated example of life and art not only imitating one another, but rather whole heartedly becoming one another. This interdependence offers a satirical yet profoundly sincere blend of social critique and celebration of artistic freedom.

by Svetlana Marich


The Multimedia Art Museum of Moscow (MAMM) was founded on the grounds of the Moscow House of Photography, and is now devoted entirely to artworks created with multimedia technologies. The museum has a large collection of photographs, video art, media installations, and media performances. The Multimedia Art Museum has a rich and diverse programme, displaying both contemporary and 20th century art, ranging from artists such as Vladimir Yakovlev, Oscar Rabin, and Ilya Kabakov to Agnes Varda, Alexander Rodenchko and now Philip Colbert.

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