Russian Views- understanding personal history 1997-1998
Russian Views is a series of paintings that were completed after Alex’s first visit to Russia, the country that has given him his name and his family heritage. The series was exhibited as part of his Masters of Fine Arts project entitled ‘Understanding Personal History.’ The monumental urban scenes of Moscow are like stage sets, dramatic and even theatrical. They are scenes, the artist says, that come primarily from his experiences driving through the great paradoxical city. The formal buildings tilted on an angled horizon line create an unsettling relationship from one frame to the next. The experience alludes to Alex’s shifting memory of locations and a destabilisation of these buildings, some of which were homes to the KGB and other government services from the communist period, dark in their histories and unsettling in their presence. The vaguely toy-town appearance of these buildings and the vast skies have the unsettling ability to force the views into the distance. For the artist, this distance becomes a metaphor for the distance he sometimes feels from the culture of Russia and from his familial ties there. At the same time, the paradox of the personal history continues and the artist also celebrates his perspective that comes from a deep connection.
After exhibiting a series of artwork I try not to worry about its future. I was surprised to hear that a work from this series would hang in the Australian Embassy in Moscow. My personal outcomes having been met, the work found a home and came into the public and formal domain.