Climate change: art with Russian roots helps Canadian scientists

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An exhibition of art by Gennady Ivanov opened in London, as part of an international multimedia project "Transitions". The artist, born in Russia and raised in Belarus, presented works that help viewers visualize the impact of climate change on the cold regions of Russia and Canada. The project also includes a meeting with climate scientists John Pomeroy and Trevor Davis. Both the artist and the scientists emphasize that human-induced climate change is a greater challenge to humanity than the Covid-19 pandemic.

Virtual opening of the exhibition was attended by guests from Australia, European and American countries, Belarus, Great Britain, Indonesia, Canada, New Zealand and Russia.

Russia and Canada together hold the overwhelming majority of the world’s permafrost and boreal forest (taiga) zones. They also have mountain glaciers and ice-sheets. Large regions of these zones, in both countries, have recently experienced warming rates, due to humankind’s emissions of greenhouse gases, which are amongst the very highest on the planet. The impact of melting and thawing on these important and sensitive landscapes and biomes has been dramatic; it will progress at an accelerating rate. Ivanov and his two science colleagues have worked together, in the field, in some of these landscapes to capture the essence of these impacts in visual art, producing impressions and imaginations of the forms, the significance of which has been identified by the dictating science.

Gennadiy Ivanov is one of the artists at the forefront of the movement for the visual arts to embrace the challenge of global climate change. His own mantra is “art hurts”; when the truth hurts it is even more important to portray it. He is working in a unique pioneering collaboration with climate scientists Professors John Pomeroy and Trevor Davies, and the works on display result from this interdisciplinary collaboration, known as the Transitions project. Transitions is part of Global Water Futures, which is the largest university-based freshwater research programme in the world.

Gennadiy Ivanov’s paintings have a distinctive communicative power. Within the raw energy of colour and motion, Gena captures his subject with elements of pure stillness - an absolute likeness suggesting sensations or emotions that are instantly recognisable. This immediacy gives Ivanov’s work an unusually broad appeal, as audiences are drawn to paintings that are brilliantly beautiful and perfectly legible.

In-person events and exhibition visits are scheduled to commence in December, subject to the coronavirus restrictions being eased.