On July 17, 1918 in the basement of a merchant house in the city of Yekaterinburg, the authority of Bolsheviks executed the last Tsar of Russia and his family. After the murder, Russian imperial history was closed under the sight of the Soviet regime. It was not until the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991 that the world community and Russian civilians received full access to the history that was hidden for nearly all of the 20th century.
Born in the USSR and raised in the United States, I use historic and cultural knowledge to reanalyze and translate these historical events without any political predispositions. My paintings are contemporary representations of 19th century history analysis based on cultural memory with the realization of time distortion.
The quotation attributed to Winston Churchill, “history is written by the victors” describes the idea of my multilayered paintings, that the history is changing as the new victors arrive. History of the past is no longer a monument, but a constant evolution of ideas to suit contemporary dogma.
The 19th century political system was based on cultural values, which makes it organic for visual examination. The military costumes, coat of arms and other symbols of power were common for all the European aristocracy. The royalty of very different politically developed societies such as England, Germany and Russia used similar visual language. Paradoxically, even the representation of their emperors – George V, Wilhelm II and Nicolas II were identical. Being first cousins with similar body types and facial characteristics, moustache and exchanged medals they became, by themselves, the impersonation of the cultural property of the time.
There is a trust for invention, for the process and personal intuition that I have making this artwork. As a visual journalist, I want to show that history is not a distant patch of true facts, but a living organism with human characteristics. It is as human as it could get. It is a study of human actions by other humans being constantly edited, added and in some tragic cases like the Holocaust – deleted. Today, it is especially important to realize that we are responsible for not only present and future, but for all three dimensions of time.
Dealing with public history, my paintings automatically comment on the oldest form of historical documentation – painting. I use these historical and figurative works to question the idea and accuracy of previous history, and trusting imagery more than the accepted understandings of the past.