exhibition

Alexander Rukavishnikov
Flesh of the Flesh

27 May 2022 — 18 September 2022
  • Alexander Rukavishnikov

Erarta Museum presented an exhibition by one of the most distinguished contemporary Russian sculptors Alexander Rukavishnikov

  • Indoor sculptures created by a well-known monumentalist

  • Visions of women celebrating life in its natural spontaneity

  • An artist whose works can be found in many collections worldwide, including those of the Tretyakov Gallery, the Ludwig Museum at the Russian Museum, Siemens, Hermès, and John Wilson

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Alexander Rukavishnikov’s monumental sculptures can be seen all across Russia and even abroad – in Dresden, Copenhagen, Madrid, Montreux, and other cities. An outdoor sculpture is in most cases a compromise for its creator. Looking to externalise his vision, he inevitably faces technical limitations and corrections and thus has to collaborate with architects and engineers. The only place where a monumentalist feels like a true artist is his own studio. Alexander Rukavishnikov tries to spend the rare moments when he is not working on commissions realising his own projects.

In one of his interviews, musing on the nature of creativity, the artist confided that he likes the idea of being an apprentice in the studio of the only true creator – God. The ultimate goal for an artist is not to strive for naturalism in making pale shadows of reality, but to aspire for the creative act itself.

The Flesh of the Flesh exhibition showcases artworks from various years created in a variety of media. There is one thing they share, though: a sculptor who made countless ingenious and audacious portraits of famous men almost entirely diverts his creative pastime – his labour of love – to women. Alexander Rukavishnikov subscribes to a personal standard of beauty: his muses are corpulent, big-nosed, and broad-shouldered. This ‘male gaze’ (as it would be described by modern-day cultural scientists debunking patriarchal views) can be traced back to the archaic times. No wonder that the sculptor is inspired by paganism, creating his own pantheon, imaging women destined to reproduce life and busily support it through everyday housekeeping chores. His sculptures are not devoid of eroticism, but it is a far cry from the voluptuousness of Boris Kustodiev’s white-skinned merchants’ wives. Rukavishnikov’s female protagonists emerge as ancient goddesses related not so much to men as to the earth – ‘flesh of the flesh’ of matter itself. These sunburnt peasants seem to harbour the elemental forces of nature.

about the artist
Alexander Rukavishnikov was born in Moscow in 1950 into a family of sculptors. In 1974, he graduated from the Surikov Moscow State Art Institute with an honours degree and joined the Artists’ Union. His large-scale outdoor sculptures can be found all across Russia and abroad. Among his most famous creations are the Moscow-based monuments to Fyodor Dostoevsky, Lev Yashin, Yuri Nikulin, and Alexander II of Russia, to name just a few. The list of Rukavishnikov’s distinctions is just as impressive as that of his artworks: from the honorary title of the People’s Artist of the Russian Federation to the prize awarded for his sculpture of John Lennon presented at the Spring Salon at the Grand Palais in Paris. The artist’s works can be found in many collections worldwide, including those of the Tretyakov Gallery, the Ludwig Museum at the Russian Museum, Siemens, Hermès, and John Wilson.

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