In 2010, the prosecutor’s office in Moscow’s Bassmany district examined the works of Moscow-based artist Lena Hades, “Chimera of Mysterious Russian Soul” and “Welcome to Russia“. Russian nationalists appealed to the authorities claiming these paintings insult Russians. The case did not go to court, but Hades told Index that Russian galleries feared exhibiting her paintings after the incident.
“Galleries are afraid of financial sanctions,” Hades says, “Although 95 per cent of my paintings are about philosophy rather than about social events, they are only exhibited in Tretyakov Gallery and Moscow Museum of Modern Art.”
Despite reduced chances of her work being exhibited, Hades still painted Pussy Riot’s members, and went on a 25-day hunger strike against their prosecution. The artist is no fan of self-censorship, even if it comes at a cost. According to her, no artist that responds to reality can accept self-censorship:
“This is not courage, this is aristocratic luxury of doing what you want. Self-censorship is more harmful for a modern Russian artist than censorship. She is frightened of scaring away galleries and buyers and prefers to paint landscapes with cows – anything far enough from real social life.”