Rather remarkably, 'My Red Homeland' at Moscow’s Jewish Museum and Tolerance Center, is Anish Kapoor’s debut solo show in Russia. Part of the Moscow Biennale, and supported by the Lisson Gallery, the show includes just four pieces: from 1993’s My Body Your Body, a blue black hole in the wall; 2007’s Shelter, a wall mounted sun-cum-giant egg shell; S-Curve, 2006, a curving concave then convex mirror; and My Red Homeland, 2003, a melted red wax wall. But they are handsomely mounted in the centre’s large gallery spaces and, here, less is definitely more. Kapoor’s work demands a lot of empty space and they get it.
Established in 2012, the Jewish Museum and Tolerance Center has taken over – or rather reclaimed – what was home to the Garage Museum of Art until the move to its OMA-designed space in Gorky Park. Originally the Bakhmetevsky Bus Garage, designed by Konstantin Melnikov, the building is considered one the best examples of constructivist architecture in Moscow. The garage, then in a neglected state, was ‘gifted’ by the city to the Federation of Jewish Communities in 2001. The group spent the next seven years restoring the building, increasing the interior space to 15,000 sq m, in line with Melnikov’s original master plan, and drafted in London architect Jamie Fobert to work on the design of the new gallery spaces. Given the city’s cavalier approach to its 20th century architectural treasures, it’s a happy miracle that the building has survived and found new purpose.