Lessons of the Unforgotten Past: the Revival of Critical Realism in the Art of Alexander Grekov


On the one hand, Alexandr Grekov follows traditions of the Russian realist school, and his paintings impress viewers with a high level of mastery of the oil painting technique. But on the other hand, the artist's works differ significantly from the pieces of the classics of Russian art by unusual composition and subjects.

Alexander Grekov never follows cliché in delivering his conceptions, and this allows the artist to fully reveal his conceptual ideas. Most of the artist's paintings are distinguished by a large format, which is quite consistent with the global themes, which the artists investigates in his paintings.
In the paintings from the series ‘The Identification,’ ‘The Epicenter’ and ‘The Tired Machines’ Alexander Grekov addresses difficult topics, which concern everyone. The artist reflects on the course of the historical process and the fate of his native country. His paintings create a special atmosphere and affect those levels of our subconscious mind, which are responsible for historical and cultural memory.
Depicting the ruins of cities, abandoned factories, wreckage of old machines and equipment, Alexander Grekov shares his opinion about the present in our country, the roots of which, of course, come from the past. Without hiding the fact that his art implies ideological context, the artist eloquently expresses his attitude to the history of our country in the long-term perspective, the structure of modern society and the relations between people, increasingly reduced to the level of ‘commodity-money relations.’ The artist believes that this process is unstoppable, just as it is impossible to overnight change the whole ‘government machine,’ which has been forming for decades.
Depicting the oldand rusty equipment of the Soviet period, Alexander Grekov speaks of the cyclical nature of history and patterns in the development of the country, which has changed its political system to follow the new path of economic development. The images of old tanks demonstrate fatigue from endless wars, many of which were aimed at fighting for markets and resources. Despite this, the images of "The Tired Machines" painted by Grekov have character and soul. Latent power is felt in old trucks and tractors, which seem to be capable at some point to overcome the rust of the past and, subject to the principle of cyclicality in the course of history, move towards long-awaited changes.
The night winter landscapes from 'The Epicenter' series have the air of freezing cold to them. The ruins of abandoned buildings, lit by the moon, are both mesmerizing and repulsive at the same time with their gloomy impersonality. The faceless silhouettes of people in these paintings, frozen in the contemplation of the ruins, seem weak and powerless. Ghosts of the past also appear in the painting series 'The Identification': inhabited residential buildings seem lifeless and differ little from the ruins of unfinished Soviet architectural projects and abandoned factories. Studying these sights and objects closely, Alexander Grekov invites the viewer as a witness - to identify these symbols of the past life, the collapsed hopes of previous generations. The artist's paintings capture the wreckage of the past, to reflect on the lessons of our history. However, the author's thoughts are directed to the future. For example, in paintings depicting children in the streets of deserted cities, the artist forsees the upcoming changes.
The work of Alexander Grekov is distinguished by the depth of analytical reasoning about pressing life issues, which is commonly lacking in most works of contemporary art. The 'tired machines' and ruins in Grekov's paintings are not just silent witnesses of past events. All these cars, factories and houses, created by generations of Soviet people, are comparable to their collapsed dreams of the "bright future." In his paintings, Alexander Grekov depicts the world as he sees it, and also expresses his attitude to this world.
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