Елена Окунева
Life&Art
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VIRTUAL MUSEUM OF CONTEMPORARY UKRAINIAN ART: Anton Solomukha – like everyone else and not like anyone else

VIRTUAL MUSEUM OF CONTEMPORARY UKRAINIAN ART: Anton Solomukha - like everyone else and not like anyone else
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Anton Solomukha. Photo by Maxim Belousov (2008)

 

The creative path of Anton Solomukha, like that of Sergei Sviatchenko, is a rare example of a successful career of a Ukrainian artist abroad. They both left at a mature age, after thirty, and in terms of implementation and introduction into a new environment, they play against you every year. But both of these masters are united by an amazing communication gift, the ability to be that very fish in the water and always at ease.

 

Unfortunately, Anton Solomukha has passed away six years ago. And, unfortunately, most of the mentions of him in the Ukrainian media – posthumous, as a rule – are memories of friends and colleagues. As if emigration is a crime, betrayal, a reason for oblivion.

But, like any villain returns to the scene of the crime, Solomukha, after a thirty-year absence, began to come to his motherland, actively participating in the artistic life of the capital.

 

VIRTUAL MUSEUM OF CONTEMPORARY UKRAINIAN ART: Anton Solomukha - like everyone else and not like anyone else
A source: artmajeur.com

 

People who knew Anton personally note that he was interested in Ukrainian art even before his return. But it is worth noting that he was also interested in many other things: mythology, philosophy, art history, literature, women, after all.

In general, a true interest in life, in all its manifestations, is probably what distinguishes outstanding artists. The ability to find, notice an idea, feeling or emotion and convey them in a way that the most exact science would not be able to do is a real gift that Anton Solomukha was endowed with.

He was also endowed with a communicative talent, which has already been mentioned in passing. Finding himself in France – a foreign country with an unfamiliar language and way of life, Solomukha quickly understands him and consistently works on his resume and biography, knocking out places for himself at exhibitions in London, Munich, New York, and then in his new home – Paris …

Here he quickly became a noticeable figure: he was recognized at social parties, he managed to become a drawing teacher for the great photographer Henri Cartier-Bresson, and he himself began to take photographs with another star of the genre – Robert Doisneau.

Apparently, these acquaintances inspired Solomukha to switch from painting to photography, which, as art critic Maria Khrushchak noted, is not typical for Ukrainian artists, they usually remain faithful to the good old, proven painting.

However, Solomukha was not far from painting either. His photographic experiments confirmed the “joint” genre of photo painting, in which the camera is the main tool, but the construction, composition, subjects remain as close as possible to traditional oil paintings.

VIRTUAL MUSEUM OF CONTEMPORARY UKRAINIAN ART: Anton Solomukha - like everyone else and not like anyone else
“Little Red Riding Hood has visited the Louvre. Caravaggio. Judith and Holofernes “, 2010

 

As for the plots, Anton Solomukha tried to avoid relevance, preferring timeless concepts. In his works, the influence of old masters such as Caravaggio and Rubens, ancient Greek mythology, biblical stories – everything that has become the so-called “incombustible sum” of earthly art, that will forever remain the basis of any creativity, is obvious.

It is curious that such a quotation is inherent in the then main artists of Ukraine – those who were part of the association of the “Paris Commune”, and those close to them. Still, the connection with the motherland that formed the artist remained inseparable.

 

VIRTUAL MUSEUM OF CONTEMPORARY UKRAINIAN ART: Anton Solomukha - like everyone else and not like anyone else
A source: artmajeur.com

 

Using classical approaches and techniques, Solomukha brings the spirit of modernity to his works, and so on one canvas, traditions coexist in the form of the Louvre, with the author’s erotic fantasies and a rather relevant entourage, despite the fact that the artist himself clearly does not strive for timeliness.

This is how the phantasmagoric “Chernobyl” series appears, which at the same time resembles everything in the world and is unlike anything else. Solomukha seems to be having fun, collaging time eras, familiar and exotic characters, analog and digital techniques in his works.

VIRTUAL MUSEUM OF CONTEMPORARY UKRAINIAN ART: Anton Solomukha - like everyone else and not like anyone else
From the series “Little Red Riding Hood Visited Chernobyl”, 2009

 

“An artist is looking for the rules of the game, and these rules are often more important than the game itself” – this is how his friend, interdisciplinary artist Charlerie Couture, said about Solomukh [1]. Solomukha himself in 2010 makes an author’s attempt to create an ironic manifesto of contemporary painting “The Rules of the Game. The game is usually “[2].

This supposedly frivolity, spontaneity has always accompanied the Ukrainian artist. Not a single memory of him is complete without the word “lightness”. They say that he easily agreed to adventures, easily got along with people, especially with women.

Now, according to the new ethics, Solomukha could be accused of all paternalistic sins, like the objectification of the female body, because he himself, without hiding, said that “he uses the female body as a language with which one can speak absolutely about everything”.

 

VIRTUAL MUSEUM OF CONTEMPORARY UKRAINIAN ART: Anton Solomukha - like everyone else and not like anyone else
A source: artmajeur.com

 

The artist refers to the Renaissance and beyond, to antiquity, where, indeed, naked women illustrated comedies, tragedies, philosophy, and music. In a sense, for Solomukha, the female body is a kind of island of stability, a code that is understandable for everyone through time and country.

And this universality is very important for Anton Solomukhi, who strove for timelessness and quoted Einstein: “Eternity is a very long period, especially towards the end”.


Sources:

[1] Charlélie Couture: Anton Solomoukha — Hommage à un ami

[2] Lesya Smirna: Contemporary Art in Search of Its Own Identity: Anton Solomukha’s version, Art Ukraine, 2015

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