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Fine Art Summer 2012

Prodigious russian artist Eduard Anikonov


Eduard Anikonov, as part of the new face of Russian figurative painters, has forged his accomplished style, inspired by his roots from his birth in his hometown, the steel center of Russia, Magnitogorsk in 1966 to become a contemporary master. Acclaimed for the depth of his body of work nationally and internationally, Anikonov can be seen as a leader in Post (industrial) Modernism, machine metaphor, structuralism; extrapolating influences from the Soviet school or social realism. Embracing these ideas refined from techniques learned at the esteemed Fine Arts College of Sverdlovsk and School of Graphics at St. Petersburg Repin Academy of Arts, Anikonov state independently from others the imagery in his diverse portfolio revealing his artistic soul. The work stands alone stylistically—a painter who has attained his own art statement to express his views. One of the artist's strengths is his capacity to draw on multiple topics, as quantified in his compositions though expressive movement of color, allowing Anikonov to cross over multiple artistic borders to achieve a singular definitive definition of painting within his evolving and ever-growing mode of expression.

As a young painter, Anikonov was introduced to America through his participation in the exchange program "Hands Across the Water" in 1997, and thereafter continued to participate in gallery exhibitions, primarily in Philadelphia, where he developed an understanding of the current US art scene, independent of influences from others. It was through his connection to the burgeoning 1990's Philadelphia cultural renaissance that Eduard met Leslie Barany, agent and art director for Hans Rudi Giger, forming friendships leading to his involvement with the artist's participation in the Carnivora project 2007-2008. This landmark Art exhibition took place consecutively in Detroit, Los Angeles, New York, and San Diego, concluding with the Carnivora: The Dark Art of Automobiles exhibit. Anikonov was placed in the company of cutting edge young artists such as John "Crash" Matos and Anthony Ausgang, among others. They were labeled within the specific dialogue on machines and their place within the social context of art dissertation—noir artists of the last half of the 20th century, noted in Les Barany's 2007 book, Carnivora: The Dark Art of Automobiles. Anikonov's participation in the project and inclusion in the book established him as a forerunner in the continued milieu of Post Modern, Machine Metaphor and Structuralism, as work reflective of his original art statements drawing upon his influence from the steel mills of Magnitogorsk.

In 2009-2010 Art Gallery ALLRUS organized eighty artists to be displayed in Vienna as part of the prestigious Art of Russia exhibition with Anikonov's invited participation validating him as one of the young Russian art masters.

In the industrial works Gear I and Gear II, the raw energy of the steel forging, machines moving, the monolithic importance of the subject matter in general is observed and delivered as the artist's impression. When seen within the context of the Carnivora Project they fit the homage to Detroit and the Automobile as the strongest influence in the 20th century culturally. The works feel primal and are easily understood to be dark and consumptive, lacking natural elements. Machines are displayed and the atmosphere created by machines devouring natural nonreplenishable resources is seen in each work. The likeness to or affinity between the gray background of Alien, as the artist's friend and mentor Giger instilled in the imagery and sculptures for the films monsters years ago, is apparent.

The colors and forms are heightened to feel sensual in Gear I as red is introduced to the canvas becoming a strong focal accent and subdued, muted, void of life in Gear II as grayed-out. As George Bellows the early 20th century painter dialogues industry and machine in works such as Steaming Streets, 1908, these two canvases are indicative of the move away from figurative as Soviet Realism of the Stalinists era or European Post Impression to a more textural spontaneous experience. Paint is richly applied to these canvases in broad plains of area, comparable to noted WPA artist, influenced by Bellows as a young artist, Willem de Kooning's use of paint as special plane to develop compositional interest providing definition for the subjects line. Anikonov has mastered the unified cohesive understanding of expression and subject in tandem in figurative modern painting within industrial landscapes. In these settings, he communicated a deep appreciation for the machines as subjects necessary and worthy of artistic interpretation: their place of importance and impact on our current cultural overview of urbanization and industrialization.

Reminiscent of the inspirational qualities offered by works of the Soviet Socialist-era art, in Thirst, Anikonov frames the worker, a focused cropped hard shot profiled, possibly close to the iron furnaces satisfying his need for water. The red makes the canvas hot, portraying the possible refection of liquid iron near by. This young face is defying the surroundings driving his thirst. Strong areas for color denote his inner determination possessed by all individuals in these conditions. In viewing this large canvas, the energy experienced sparks a response the viewer can feel—the dry unquenchable thirst. A heroic quality is lent to the subject by igniting the red with a dimensional dark background highlighted by pale ocher, to denote no real light source other than fire brightens this setting. The artist's deep heart-felt connection and appreciation for the subject is conveyed.

In the images Nameless Time I and Nameless Time II from his Decadence series, Anikonov experiments with nudes placed on, or arising from differing tonal backgrounds. Contrast is drawn in this diptych expressing a shift in mood and statement. There is a continued emphasis on gears as a machine. In each painting the clock is held in front of the modeling figure. The time on face of the clock is the same yet the statements are expressing different processes of the potential contemplations abstract within the images. In Nameless Time I, the nude female figure is walking upon abstract blocks of white and clear, clean blue. In Nameless Time II she is cropped emerging from a different orientation, yet the time of the face of the time piece is the same in each image offering the viewer a space within time. Nameless Time I is a pronounced negative print, like film hanging in a dark room. Nameless Time II is an exposure of the real time within the darker setting revealed. The artist seems to provoke the question of inner and outer landscapes within a person. What is intended may not always be seen and the variances in the color palette can introduce new perceptions.

Anikonov has adapted a unifying artistic grid in all of his works to fulfill the message of understanding that we are placed with in our personal landscapes, captured in an image or viewing an image, as he unites the plains, or time conceptualized in his art. His line of art description is strongly stated throughout his body of work as the universal Now, irrelevant to time or place as the artist strikes with his colors and palette the structural importance of the mechanism of the universe, placing the gears or the bones of his vision on the context of permanency, while fleeting as an impression of a moment.