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Friday, October 23, 2015

Anton Solomoukha

Little Red Riding Hood Visits the Louvre, 2008, Anton Solomoukha
Anton Solomoukha
It's not often in this day and age that one stumbles upon an artist that has, in effect, "invented" a new type of art. He calls it "photo painting," though the term stands wide open for misinterpretation. It's not painting from photos, or painting on photos, or paintings of photos nor even photos of paintings. In that I'm running out of prepositions to italicize, let me explain that "photo painting" is actually painting with photos, and it's the province of the Ukrainian photographer, Anton Solomoukha (beware trying to pronounce that name unless you're Ukrainian). How do you paint with a photo, you ask? Well, in Solomoukha's case, you first choose an instantly recognizable famous painting, preferably one peopled with a dozen or more figures (preferably nude or semi-nude and preferably female). Then you travel to some "barn" of a studio along with a dozen or more models ready, willing, and able to get naked (or mostly so) and to follow directions much like that associated with movie making. Then this director (Solomoukha) simply arranges his figures in some approximation to that of the famous painting he has chosen. If you try this yourself, don't forget to give the resulting photo a startling title along with a subtle reference to the original artist.

Ingres' The Turkish Bath, (far left) and Solomoukha's two versions.
Susanna and the Elders
(after Tintoretto), Anton Solomoukha
Little Red Riding Hood Visits the Louvre (top), from 2008, is one of several photo paintings based upon Solomoukha's seeming obsession with the children's story heroine. His two versions of Ingres' 1862 The Turkish Bath (above, left). As if Ingres' classic image wasn't sufficiently erotic, both of Solomoukha's version easily outscore Ingres' efforts. In fact, that tends to be the case with all Solomoukha's photo paintings as compared to their classic inspirations. Solomoukha's Susanna and the Elders (left) is very loosely based on Tintoretto's 1555 version. However, this subject was literally "done to death" during the Baroque era so it's difficult to say precisely which artist from that period most influenced Solomoukha. The referenced artist could just as easily be Peter Paul Rubens, Artemisia Gentileschi, Rembrandt, Van Dyck, and numerous others, though Tintoretto probably painted the most different version of the classic naked young lady and the dirty old men.

Little Red Riding Hood Visits Chernobyl, (after Las Meninas) Anton Solomoukha
Little Red Riding Hood Visits the Louvre,
Anton Solomoukha
Little Red Riding Hood is recurring reference in an ongoing series as seen in his Little Red Riding Hood Visits Chernobyl (after Las Meninas) (above) and Solomoukha's Little Red Riding Hood (right). I have no idea what order any of these or others in the series were painted, though they all seemed to have been done around 2006-08. However the version at left and the one at the top seem not to reference any one single Louvre painting so they may date from early in the series. That's not the case with the artist's Little Red Riding Hood Visits the Louvre: The Abduction of the Sabine Women (below) in which she can be quite plainly seen in the lower right corner enjoying the hell out of the ruckus. The work is based upon Nicholas Poussin's version painted around 1633-34, which is visually referenced on the wall in the background.

The Abduction of the Sabine Women, (after Nicholas Poussin), Anton Solomoukha
That's not the case with Solomoukha's Raft of the Medusa (below), based upon Gericault's 1819 masterpiece which, though also in the Louvre, is probably not a part of the Little Red Riding Hood series in that there's no obvious visual reference to the young lass.

Raft of the Medusa, Anton Solomoukha.
According to Solomoukha's version, the Medusa must have had a mostly female crew.
Born in 1945 when the Ukraine was still a part of Russia, several of Solomoukha's photo painting tableaus were shot amid the radioactive ruins of that country's Chernobyl during a brief visit (is there any other kind?) in 2006. Solomoukha's Chernobyl. The Swimming pool. Scene of The Massacres of Scio (below), has a dismal, decadent, ghostly aura quite in keeping with the location and with Delacroix's version painted in 1824. In contrast, Solomoukha's "lightens up" with his reference to Caravaggio's Bacchus (bottom) which has a playfully amusing character to it, though Solomoukha may be the first artist in history to render the god of the grape as a transsexual.

Chernobyl. The Swimming Pool. Scene of the massacres of Scio, Anton Solomoukha

Solomoukha's Bacchus (left) and Caravaggio's (presumably) male version (right).

[I'm sorry if the rampant nudity in this piece offends anyone, but it's one of the basic hallmarks of virtually ALL Solomoukha's work, and this artist needs to be known and seen. Believe me, the works displayed here are quite tame as compared to most of Solomoukha's pieces.]


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