This Russian artist was born in the Far East, studied in St. Petersburg and now lives in the Caucasus. He has managed to understand, or rather feel, life and culture as a unified whole. His interest in the Russian province, the types of people living there, and its slow organic life style, has gradually become an interest in, and an artistic interpretation of, biblical themes.
His pictures of themes from The Old and New Testaments, like his scenes from the Russian province in the second half of the 20th century – the characteristic features of which are disappearing –, are characterized by a feeling of “presence” experienced intensely by the spectator. At the same time a distance is created through the pictorial communication, where signs and symbols are mixed with elements from medieval icons and the Russian Avant-garde, and where stylized hieroglyphs stand side by side with a “literary” description of life.
AK What is the province like? It is poor. Its riches are in the soil where things can be planted and grown.
PEOPLE OF THE PROVINCE DO NOT BELIEVE IN ANYTHING GOOD. They hoped for a long time- after the War, and then again and again, AND NOW THEY ONLY HOPE THAT THEIR CHILDREN OR GRANDCHILDREN WILL LIVE BETTER. But the generation I paint no longer believes THAT IT WILL LIVE LONG ENOUGH TO SEE THE IMPROVEMENTS.
GN Does that mean that your province does not have a new generation?
AK THE New generation is already a completely different world, which does not interest me. I am interested in the live reality which is passing away right in front of my eyes. Soon it will be gone and therefore I wish to record it as fast as possible. In that sense my art is documentary – it is a chronicle.
GN We know about your love of medieval art, and we have seen your passion for the early periods of different cultures. But how is that connected with your chronicle of life in the province, with “present day life passing away”? Is your province an echo of what is medieval in present day life, IS IT A ROMANTIC CONSOLATION AND SUPPORT FOR YOU PERSONALLY?
AK It is not a support, but rather something fragile which is disappearing and which I want to hold on to, as in a film, to run the film at a lower speed. LIKE TARKOVSKY WAS SHOOTING IN “STALKER” – THE WATER, A WALL …
FROM THE CONVERSATION OF GEORGY NIKICH AND KJELD BJORNAGER WITH THE ARTIST