A Russian artist born in 1960, Alexander Florensky began his career in the early 1980â€™s as a painter and book illustrator. He graduated from the Mukhina College of Art and Design located in Leningrad in 1982. His first subject matter included landscapes and still-life imagery that is branded as a more traditional style. These paintings exhibit affection for pictorial imagery which are comprised of immense influences from earlier generations or artists. These influences came particularly from The Thirteen Group, a group formed in the 1920â€™s, late in the Russian Avant-garde movement, to the Arefievians.
This changed for him during the 1990â€™s when he turned conceptual art and began exploring and producing objects and installations. He was also a founding member of the Mitki, an underground art collective that works surrounded the subject of challenging the Soviet establishment during the years that led to the Perestroika, meaning restructuring, which refers to the change of the Russian economic system. Later on in the 1990â€™s he began collaborating with his wife Olga Florenskaya, a fellow artist and member or the Mitâ€™ki. Their works hold humor as well as the exploration of urban life in Russia, nature, Russian mentality, and history.
In a 1998 collaborative project with his wife, they do just that; explore Russian mentality. The piece is called â€œA Moveable Bestiaryâ€ which had its first exhibition in Stâ€™ Petersburg in the Summer Garden of Peter the Great in 1998. The garden held historical of menagerie that existed in the garden in the eighteenth century. Florensky and his wife played off of this by making their own. They constructed huge animal figures that are rooted in mythologies involving mass consciousness. Their added presence in the garden introduced a playful energy into a place that has a proper and dignified atmosphere. The animals included a Military Telephone dog, a chart displaying cuts of beef in the town of St. Petersburg, a Trophy sturgeon, a Russian Restaurant Bear with a tray holding wine and fruit, as well as an Australian Kangaroo who wore boxing gloves. These animals are revealing the imagery that is sub-consciously created within the Russian mind at the mention of particular continual archetypes.
As he transitioned to conceptualism involving installations, Florensky continued to worked with his favorite an pictorial medium of drawing. In 2001, he created â€œThe Russian Album,â€ a series of drawings that include the incredible â€œThe Solitary Guitarist,â€ â€œOld Parents at Their Sonâ€™s Grave,â€ â€œArrival of a Governess at a Merchantâ€™sâ€ and others. These works were rendered in a more cartoon-like fashion. Instead of traditional rendering and linear perspective, Florensky uses simple shapes and blocks of color to create a flattened sense of space.
One high achievement was the tour of his work to London in 2002. This was a result of the Russian Arts Management Placement Programme that had been organized by Visiting Arts. Alexander and Olga Florensky were the first of a group of exhibitions of this grand plan of Russian exhibitions and events, located at the Architectural Association in London. The exhibition included three parts, one piece by Olga, one by Alexander, and their collaborated work â€œA Moveable Bestiary.â€ Olgaâ€™s work â€œTaxidermy,â€ explores stuffed animals with screen prints with interactive pet-like creatures. This piece gives us a reminder of our brutality in a unique way. Alexanderâ€™s piece â€œModest Architectureâ€ reminds us of amusement and the reward that experimentation brings with his working drawing and architectural structures.
Several works of art by Florensky have been sold at auctions. In 2010, his Painting Derevnya Pavshino na Oredezh (The Village Pavshino on the Oredezh River, was sold at Gene Shapiro Auctioneers â€˜Fine Art Auction.â€™ He created this oil on canvas piece in 1984 using a muted color palate. He uses a very painterly style as he shapes a rural landscape including a tree in the foreground which partially conceals a cabin-looking house in the mid-ground. This piece is a representation of his earlier works before his shift toward conceptual art in the 1990â€™s. Florensky also has a long list of accredited exhibitions beginning in 1996. He has exhibited his work several times in Russia, as well as in England, France, Finland, and Austria.
A recent work or Florensky includes collaboration with Michael Korol titled â€œJerusalem ABCâ€™s.â€ The idea for this work emerged in 2012 when the poet Korol met Florensky on his first visit to the Holy Land. The idea was then formed to create an album with each page corresponding to a letter in the Russian alphabet which would include imagery of a certain sight in Jerusalem. His style continues to lean toward a graphic and cartoon-like style. Bold marks of black material on white paper gives his work a certain sense of intensity.
While some of his recent works such as â€œJerusalem ABCâ€™sâ€ have a bold, black on white paper feel, other works from the 21â€™s century include more color but are still bold, blocky, and outlined. His landscape pieces include shapes of color and are much more contemporary compared to his early works in the 1980â€™s. Today Florensky continues his practice of art-making, using every-day imagery to comment on society.
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Russian Avant-garde Gallery. Russian Avant-Garde Gallery. 8 August 2011. 10 April 2013 .