Aleksey Lantsev. Well-organised Optimism
30 November 2018 — 24 February 2019
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Erarta Museum presents an exhibition of sun-filled paintings by the prominent Russian artist Aleksey Lantsev


Hedonism and the joy of living rarely appear in contemporary art, but Aleksey Lantsev somehow manages to generate solar power from paint and canvas. His paintings seem to bestow on the viewer a generous serving of vitamin D topped by some hormones of happiness.

A similar visual practice was employed by the impressionists who worshipped sunlight almost as a deity capable of smoothing out not only certain features of the world around us, but also the hardships of life itself. Take for instance the late works of Claude Monet with their lack of a conscious and judgemental human perspective, seemingly presenting the garden from the viewpoint of a little butterfly suspended in mid-air over the pond. Aleksey Lantsev takes a similar approach, dissolving all that is unnecessary in clear sunlight. What remains are pure colours, bright and vivid patches transforming into realistic images through the addition of lines and details.

For many years the artist has been experimenting with various techniques. By using fabrics and special paint application methods he achieves particular transparency of colour, creating a stained glass effect, as if the source of light were within the painting.

World War I, the revolutions, the collapse of the established class society and the scientific and technological progress drastically changed the European consciousness, and this change is still evident even in our generation. Nevertheless, Aleksey Lantsev seems to belong to the previous epoch full of inner bliss and harmony.

If one were to draw parallels between Aleksey Lantsev and other Russian artists, these would be members of the Mir Iskusstva movement with their penchant for inward calm and integrity. Like them, Lantsev is focused on the aesthetics of his subject matter and fond of urban landscapes. Another aspect shared with Mir Iskusstva is the particular clarity and translucence of colour along with the drawing prowess manifested by dynamic lines and contours.

However, Aleksey Lantsev’s oeuvre in general gravitates towards expressionism. This method of perceiving and depicting the reality came to dominate the visual art scene of the 20th century. Contrary to the trailblazers of this movement, Aleksey Lantsev’s expression is not that of a major crisis or inner conflict, but rather of a cheerful, optimistic mindset, a feeling of perpetual motion through the modern world of high — yet still comfortable — speeds. Each of the artist’s paintings is a small vacation or journey. His task is to break the viewers away from the daily grind, giving them a short respite and a sensation of lightness of being, liberating them from their own selves. Perhaps the most essential feature of Lantsev’s paintings is their utmost inner freedom and energy which are channelled to the viewers, ever uplifting, elevating, and taking us to a new level of consciousness.

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