Silhouette of a woman in a lace mantilla, reclining on a patterned carpet, either asleep, or dead. As you know, the great Spaniard Francisco Goya painted the Duchess of Alba nude in anticipation of love. The young Russian artist Alexander Kupalyan depicts Alba on her deathbed with his face partially covered. Why?
Тhe artist, a young man in a white T-shirt smeared with paint, with a picture of Caravaggio on his chest:
Perhaps, it comes from childhood, which is remembered for an endless succession of funerals. Usually, the dead found their last shelter in our apartment, in the next room, literally behind the wall. At first I was terribly afraid of them, and then I got used to it. In the end, we all live in the presence of Love and Death. And it is still unknown who will knock on our door first. For me, Duchess Alba became the embodiment of Eros and Thanatos. And “Escape”… well, because the sunset was already burning down, the night was coming, and her soul would soon leave this earth, leaving only the perishable body on the carpet.
The entire wall is taken up by a huge canvas “Wave. Atlantis”. Some frantic boiling emerald color, echoing in its richness with the paintings of old masters. It turns out that Alexander passionately loves the sea. Ready to draw it endlessly. But he is not interested in just seascapes, he wants to penetrate into the very thickness of the water. He seemed to be looking into the abyss. It already remotely looks like a method. Kupalyan’s gaze is not directed towards heaven, not up, but precisely downward, into a black twilight, curling under his feet.
Gray ash, black scorched grass and coals crackling with the last, terrible sparkle. The killed land, killed nature, killed soul are constant motives, permanent images of Kupalyan’s works. And a dog covered with the ashes of Vesuvius and turned into a modest monument to human indifference and oblivion.
“When I wandered around the dead city, I was most struck by the fact that in Pompeii the dogs were kept on a very short leash, and when the eruption of Vesuvius began, the tied up animals could not escape from burning lava.”
The series of works titles “The Death of Cities”, created especially for the exhibition at the VS Unio, presents the mystical world of dying civilizations through the language of painting, based on the artist’s impressions of traveling in Italy, the experience of training at the Academy of Fine Arts of Naples, encountering with the traces of cruel cataclysms and natural disasters.
Thirst for serious meanings, an appeal to the eternal themes was relevant for thinking artists in different periods of the history of art. Serious easel painting requires solitude and silence. It always involves the voluntary rejection of many temptations and enticements. Few artists have such stamina these days. But Kupalyan’s art is encouraging evidence that masterpieces are still possible.