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Alexander Dubovik. Afflatus Diary
April 6, 2017 - May 19, 2017
When discussing the creative boom brought on by the Krustchov Thaw and the prominent personalities it forged, Alexander Dubovik’s name immediately comes to mind, especially when touching upon such issues as establishing relations between the artist and political authority when the artist is interacting, conflicting, and rethinking his immediate historical reality. These ideas are at the core of Alexander Dubovik’s struggle to promote his innovative ideas and his effort to overcome the opposition of official art critics controlling the cultural triggers. Dubovik could not but follow the all-pervasive social realism culture, however, he held on to his beliefs and managed to parley at least some of his unique creative vision to the wider audience.
During the two previous exhibitions namely “The Labyrinth of Meaning” (2016) and “9 Gouache Paintings” (2014) held at the Stedley Art Foundation’s “White Space” exhibition hall the artist showcased his paintings and prints all of which could enter the Soviet art scene only with the Perestroika. The 1950-60s art in the Soviet Union was dominated by clear-cut shapes which prevented the young artists of the time from engaging in bald experiments with colour and form, looking for new innovative approaches to expression, and developing their own unique visual language. As a result, most of those experiments were carried out under the radar and consequently could not have been discussed in depth by art critics and the public.
An unexpected opportunity arose only at the start of the 1970s when it became possible to realise “subversive” artistic ideas at the Monumental Art Unit under the Union of Artists. Innovative artistic forms emerged under the guise of new techniques in mosaic, decorative art, stained glass, and tapestry: all of which was impossible to realise in painting. Mosaic and stained glass sketches showcased during the “Afflatus Diary” exhibition embrace the same type of images as in Dubovik’s easel paintings. The official art critics viewed it as “decorative art” (and compared to working on commanding multi-figured compositions this type of exercise was able to generate meagre financial income) but for Dubovik it represented his philosophy and his art incarnate. Each of Dubovik’s works has carefully structured horizontal and vertical lines, the paintings’ geometry is methodically intertwined, the forms flow into each other, and the rhyme and rhythm appear to coexist in conflict. The artistic space in Dubovik’s art is dominated by ideas and concepts, and the manner in which they coexist while reverberating and overpowering each other. The artist often quotes Jose Ortega y Gasset who once said: “The relation between our mind and things consists in that we think the things, that we form ideas about them. We possess reality, strictly speaking, nothing but the ideas we have succeeded in forming about it. These ideas are like a belvedere from which we behold the world.”
It was a matter of principle for Dubovik to choose ideas over ideology and this created an unbreachable gulf between himself and his contemporaries in art who continued to religiously serve social realism. Dubovik is known for challenging authority and marching to the beat of his own drum. Prohibited from publically exhibiting his paintings, he expressly and enthusiastically focused on his sketches which reflected the future monumental art painting but for the officials on the Artistic Expert Board, his work represented merely square feet of decorative painting. Back in the 1960s Joseph Kosuth, a founder of the conceptual art movement asserted the primacy of idea at the expense of the form or material, however, Dubovik in contrast to his fellow conceptual artists does value the form which brings his ideas to life: “I try to follow the aesthetic movement. Just think, before art was an uplifting reflection of life and nowadays art seeks to present life more miserable than it really is.”