August Lanin

artwork gallery

About artist, biography

The life of an artist, architect, and theorist, August Lanin (1925-2006) would make a terrific plot for a film or a novel. Fortunately being given a talent of the Artist he transferred his impressions and thoughts by his works. 

August Lanin was born and lived in the period of constant changes of Russian political landscape. It may be this so clearly perceived transparency of time layers showing through one another, summarized in esthetics, characteristic of every particular epoch that prepossesses the viewer of his art. Everything is gathered here: the gift of artistic understanding of the world, granted already in his childhood; the war by the beginning of which he was just 16; the choice of an architect's profession at that time so necessary for Motherland lying in ruin; participation in work at cult projects of Moscow metro and 'Leningrad' hotel; delight and thrill of space era when it seemed that in a year 'there will be apple trees growing on Mars'; participation in base Moon stations projects; doubt about ethic and aesthetic ideals of the Soviet state; fundamental reflections on history and spirituality, unavoidable for every artist and thinker; and, finally, thorough and intense observation of self in self-portraits. 

His vivid and austere drawing of 1960-s - figurative, expressive and abstract, with its placard symbolism and sign ornamentality - is connected in the exhibition project with the works of sculpture of 1990-s. Education of an architect and architectural practice let Lanin feel freer in the choice of materials, though this choice was very often dictated by the circumstances of his life.

Lanin's heritage is extensive and uncommonly various, including painting, graphics, collages, sculpture, unique colour music designs, conceptual architectural projects, drawing and breadboard models. The full retrospective show of his works could only be accommodated in a large museum center.

Many of color linoleum engraving and monotypings are exhibited for the first time. Their plastic boldness and individuality are obvious, despite their half a century remoteness. The fact that Lanin's early graphics did not fit in the socialist realistic context and was in 1963 declared "formalistic", and then forbidden for display at exhibitions seems quite natural.

The style, ideas and figurativeness of the works of 1960-s, the fact that he was forbidden to participate in exhibitions, allow us to formally rank Lanin among nonconformists. In a number of works of these years the degree of criticism of authority is extremely high - a man could become subject to repression even for not so sharp attacks as depicting Khrushchev in the fool's cap, and members of the government as owls sitting on the Kremlin wall (there are such samples in Lanin's creative work). 

However, on the whole, Lanin's creative work can't be put within any rigid limits and disproves the affirmed division onto official artist and rebels who don't accepted socialist realism dogmas. In fact, he was fascinated not by the struggle against the officiously soviet system, but by pure art problems and constant search of new plastic solutions. It can explain the flexibility and easiness of his moving from one task to another and applying his powers to different kinds of art.

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Gallery of Soviet painting

"Стеклянное небо"

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