Images and their Entities
November 17 – December 23, 2016
November 17 – December 23, 2016
The Otto Zoo gallery is presenting Images and Their Entities and Sentience, two solo shows by the artists Nikita Alexeev (Moscow 1953), exhibiting in Italy for the first time thanks to the collaboration of Galerie Iragui in Moscow, and Edwin Vlansenroot (Hulst 1953). The show will be open from 17 November to 23 December 2016 and, after the Christmas break, can be seen by appointment until 20 January 2017.
The two artists’ researches will deal, even if not directly, with ideas about the metaphysics of objects, the aesthetic sense of art, and the rarefaction of vision to the point where painting reaches its essential and definitive dimension.
In the 1970s, Nikita Alexeev was part of Moscow’s conceptualist movement, called by Boris Groys “Romantic Muscovite Conceptualism”: a milieu centred around such artists and poets as Ilya Kabakov Victor Pivovarov, Ivan Chuikov, Eric Bulatov, Lev Rubinstein, and Andrei Monastyrsky.
This was a very different conceptualism to that of the West because, for political reasons, it was culturally linked to idealistic and mystical movements and not to the aesthetic and philosophical avant-gardes of the twentieth century, which arose outside the area of Soviet influence.
Nikita Alexeev’s works are pen- and watercolour-drawings of objects, flowers, wood, stones: small testimonies to a universal life, symbols of a dialogue between what is real and false, tangible and imaginary, verbal and visual. For Alexeev the show in Milan is a kind of tribute to Umberto Eco, a master of interpretation, and it is an ironic comment on the connections and relationships between languages different from our contemporaneity.
Often accompanied by brief inscriptions in Russian, French and English, his drawings aim at being the starting point for a revelation of the present that for each one of us is personal and diverse.
There are five series of works on show: Stones to, Three Clubs, La Commedia cipollina n. 1 e n. 2, Reliquarium of XX Century, My Grandad’s Ash-Tray.
Edwin Vlansenroot (Hulst 1953) has lived and worked in Italy for many years. His work, both painting and sculpture, is mainly concerned with the study of an unreal and Arcadian nature where the human figure is rarely present, unless at a level of an archetype, and in its visionary constructions there is an ironic and grotesque element.
His canvases start with a nebulous background in various colours: on this base he paints ethereal natural elements detached from their context to the point of becoming purely decorative, like the backgrounds in Renaissance paintings.
It is in his paper or cardboard sculptures, with their additions of fabric, iron wire, wood, glue, and plaster, all finished off with acrylic and shellac, that the ironic and grotesque aspect
becomes most visible: a wretched and romantic mouse with a gigantic penis, a lopsided and poetic stone, a bird balanced over emptiness.
On show is his series Herbst (“Autumn” in German) that plays on the subtle relationship between the flowers of imagination and the flower of the woman which opens its carnal petals. Sentience is also the title of one of the works where, against an ethereal background, there climb the shoots of a world that perhaps goes beyond the limits of the senses.
Nikita Alexeev was born in Moscow in 1953. He worked for a long period as an illustrator and designer of books for Moscow Publishing House. Since 1970 he has produced and self-published books and albums. From 1976 to 1983 he was a member of “Common Action”. In 1979 he was one of the founders of the Moscow Archive of New Art (MANI) and, in 1982-1984, he was co-founder and director of the ApArt gallery in Moscow, with its headquarters in his flat. From 1987 to 1993 he lived in France; he is currently living in Moscow.
In 2009 Nikita Alexeev was nominated for the State Award in the field of contemporary art “Innovation”, and the “Kandinsky Prize”.
Edwin Vlassenroot was born in Hulst, the Netherlands, in 1953. In 1967 he enrolled at the Royal Academy of Antwerp, Belgium; he also studied history in Utrecht, and drama at Amsterdam University.
He has acted as a playwright for various theatres and theatrical companies in the Netherlands, and has written four works for children.
In 1988 he moved to Milan where he continued to work as a sculptor, painter, and designer. He has exhibited at Studio d’Arte Canaviello, and he has taken part at Salone del Mobile with a collection of lamps he designed and made.