Alexander Prostov-Pokrovsky: ''Any conscious person won't have the nerve to call this ugliness Russia''

Interview with the artist about the glory, destruction of the old and signs of spiritual revival

Alexander Prostov-Pokrovsky: ''Any conscious person won't have the nerve to call this ugliness Russia'' Photo: Maksim Platonov

It's amusing to fantasize about past lives, but it's not only amusement. It is also a way to better understand the history of your country, to see new meanings in the cultural patterns and, perhaps, to see your own shadow. This kaleidoscope of images from different eras was presented by artist Alexander Prostov-Pokrovsky at the personal exhibition, which opened in the gallery INK in Kazan, Russia.

''Realism doesn't provoke deep thoughts''

You have a recognizable system of principles, based on which you create artistic reality. Why did you call your creative method as 'intellectual realism'?

If you take a realism painting itself, it won't cause deep reflection of the viewer. You just 'go' in the landscape — and you breathe, live in it. But if this landscape has characters, between whom there is a complex interaction, in order to understand how they are related and why they are in this landscape, which is also the protagonist of the painting— you need to have a certain intellectual basis, scope of knowledge. This is the essence of my artistic feature.

''If you take a realism painting itself, it won't cause deep reflection of the viewer. You just 'go' in the landscape — and you breathe, live in it. But if this landscape has characters, between whom there is a complex interaction...''

It turns out that the exhibition is a kind of self-development tool?

Look, everywhere fans go to the matches of their favourite teams. There are fans of musical bands that follow the 'stars' along the entire route of the tour. Why dont' them follow their favorite artist? In Europe, there have been such precedents, and nobody is surprised at it.

For example, contemporary artist Michael Mulcahy from Ireland who is living in Paris. He is a completely crazy person who works in abstract style. More than that, he adds his own sperm to his paints. He is an avid traveler, he has reached even Africa, where he lived with the locals. So, Michael is followed by an entourage of more than 20 people, who even do not communicate with the artist and even recognize that his personality is not so much interesting to them. They are people who value the contact with the paintings themselves in certain circumstances.

It is quite difficult to educate such person who would go not just to an exhibition but for a contact with paintings…

I agree, and to that end, we have not only opened the exhibition, but also prepared a program for the entire month. Let's start with an education cycle for school students. By the example of this exhibition I will elaborate on several topics that will help them see a glimpse of the eternity in history, literature, social studies. There will also be a master class for those who develop their creative skills — artists, photographers, designers, decorators. The program includes a performance based on a play, the characters of which are the characters of my paintings, with students of drama school and all who wish. Also, at weekend it will be a tour in English for those who want to train their skill to talk about art.

''We have not only opened the exhibition, but also prepared a program for the entire month. Let's start with an education cycle for school students. By the example of this exhibition I will elaborate on several topics that will help them see a glimpse of the eternity in history, literature, social studies''

''My peers didn't apologize''

If you look at modernity more broadly, from the perspective of the society, do you see a change of epochs?

Sometimes I think it would be better if we were stuck in the previous era, because it has a feeling that almost everything is crumbling! Many say that if this trend continues, we may reach the point of no return. And I state with one hundred percent responsibly: guys, we have long passed it, wake up! We need something new to 'generate'. Because there is no return to the old, nothing modern has been created, and the destruction continues.

What is being ruined in the first place, in your opinion?

It is our own souls, which constitute the soul of Russia. How are you, me, others being destroyed? Just answer yourselves to this question. Let us take one example — speech. I was among rogues all my childhood and could not even imagine that today thieves jargon will become the norm of communication, because in those days no one respected it. How did it happen that it has become a national language? Name at least one politician who would speak competently and culturally. Even Mr Putin with his toilets. Therefore, all officials have become rogues.

Your paintings contain a lot of politics. This is partly a function of holy fool — to call things by their proper names...

Naive are those who seriously considers Moscow to be the capital of Russia. Moscow is a city-state, the capital itself, not having any relation to the rest of the country. And Russia, in fact, doesn't exist anymore. The closest name to what is happening now — SyNyGe. I state this position on every street corner. Any person who has a little of conscience won't have the nerve to call all this mess Russia. Russia is a sacred concept, it is the Homeland…

Where did you get this dissidence from?

I have it with the genes, and as a result of life experience. We see this all the time. Though I have to admit that in the 1970-80s, among the Communist bureaucracy there were highly educated, cultured and understanding people. And I respected them. Today — just turn on the TV! This is a disaster! And people not just watch — they still believe. The problem is the same — feeble mind.

''In the 1970-80s, among the Communist bureaucracy there were highly educated, cultured and understanding people. And I respected them. Today — just turn on the TV! This is a disaster! And people not just watch — they still believe''

How do you see a spiritual revival of Russia?

Hardly and only theoretically. I do not see yet how it can happen in practice. Although I see some signs. For example, I go along a street, a row of young people aged from 16 to 25 is going towards me to the full width of the sidewalk. As usual, I step aside and – attention! — if someone hits my shoulder or a backpack — they always apologize. But my peers in such case almost never apologize. I started to notice that young people on the streets have become more smiley – it is surprising because nobody smiled at our times. And their speech is more educated. All of this is a spark of hope. But what a machine is running over them with its rusty gears! It is able to break everyone in a year. And the task of the new generation is to be stronger than this machine. God Forbid!

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By Ekaterina Avdoshina. Photo: Maksim Platonov