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Russian Avant-Garde Art Stuck in South Korea

Art loaned for an exhibition cannot be flown back to Russia.

"Jewish Venus" (1912) by Mikhail Larionov. Yekaterinburg Museum of Fine Arts

Dozens of paintings by renowned Russian artists including Wassily Kandinsky are stuck in Seoul after an exhibition due to flight sanctions imposed over Moscow's invasion of Ukraine, organizers said Monday.

The paintings by around 50 Russian artists — including Kandinsky, Kazimir Malevich, and Alexander Rodchenko, among others — have been on display in central Seoul at the Sejong Museum of Art since December.

But following Russia's invasion of Ukraine in February, Western countries including the United States and the EU have imposed unprecedented sanctions on Moscow.

The Seoul exhibition wrapped up on Sunday, but the paintings are stuck in the South Korean capital as all available flight options have been shut down by the sanctions on Moscow, an organizer told AFP.

The art works were loaned by four Russian institutions for the exhibition, according to Seoul organizers, including the Nizhny Novgorod State Art Museum and the Yekaterinburg Museum of Fine Arts.

"The works are being prepared to be returned, but flights are currently blocked due to the war in Ukraine," organizers told AFP.

"Although nothing has been confirmed yet, the Russian side is seeking a way to receive them in a non-airway way."

The paintings include "Improvisation 4" (1909) by Kandinsky and "Suprematism" (1915-16) by Malevich, as well as "Jewish Venus" (1912) by Mikhail Larionov.

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