Mania Grandiosa is the diagnosis and the name of the three Leningrad art school alumni exhibition – U.Alexandrov, I. Goldenshluger and K.Molosh. The authors suggest that grandiosity is not about a large scale, Vychetich and Cereteli were hopelessly diminishing in size while their creations were growing bigger.
The figure of an artist looks far more impressive against the canvas background, which is reduced to the size of a post card. Especially when this canvas-postcard is a reproduction of his own picture, done by himself. ‘We don’t copy the old masters – we challenge them by reproducing our own pictures in a smaller size - the pictures that were, will be and never will be painted’ – said Ivan Goldenshluger.
Placed in a box reminiscent an old puppet theater, these ‘reproductions’ cease to be mere paintings, they are almost a theatrical performance, where the characters are heroic Mujahidin, Chukchi Jew, Fahrenheit with a shotgun, but, above all, crowded on the stage ‘pictures’. ‘A ticket to immortality is the appearance on the pages of ‘Ogonek’ (the popular 50s magazine), being copied by the pupils of different art schools, when your decorations for a play are exhibited in the Theatrical museum, and to top it all, having your own hall in a world-known art gallery. And exactly this ticket to immortality, with all its listed and implicated components, the Leningrad trio grant themselves with the appropriate gravitas for such a solemn occasion. That is their megalomania.
Alexander Borovsky about the exhibition:
"Yuri Alexandrov made the simplest installation for this exhibition – he arranged his paintings in a big wooden box – a sandpit or a seedling container. Probably he drops a hint that he’s entering (or is ready to enter) his second childhood. Maybe, quite the contrary, he suggests progress, an accumulation of meanings: the paintings, provided with proper watering, will germinate into the future. As Evgeni Abramovich Baratinsky used to say: ‘And as I found a friend in my own generation, I would find a reader in descendants’.
Anyway, Alexsandrov deals with temporality or rather with temporality as a means of survival. He plants the images, with which he’s lived his whole life.
This is the illustrations of children books for the Extreme North peoples which he made almost forty years ago: there is nothing ethnic about them, it was required to pull the Chukchi reality up with the common Soviet one. It took special accuracy and a normative approach of the pictures occurring in the typical textbooks of the 50s. This taught the artist to be ambivalent towards the chronotype: the external form suits the time, the essence is a mockery. That’s where the same ambivalence towards the narrative comes from: it can be either an epos or an application manual.
This concerns the works of art where the early experience is showed – the works in Danish pornography magazines (real or imagined). The experience of watching different art influencing the paintings and its love-and-hate extremes - He loves Gramville, he adores Russian narrative paintings, and he has a stormy relationships with pop-art and comics (one day he likes them, the next – it’s out of sight, out of mind). There is an influence of some domestic experience as well.
As a result we have an absolutely convincing picture (textbooks and porno comics both are a guide for action) where the Northern peoples’ epos goes together with a porno magazine, the explication of composition techniques, combining classical images of the common characters from TV news (Mujahidin etc.) with an eternally sad Jewish joke.