Wednesday, October 7, 2009

The Metaphysical World of Alexander Aksinin II

beautiful and irregular pattern. A friend, who is a specialist on Eastern poetry, visited me one day and pointed out on the bookplate. “Oh, you have ‘Leila and Medgun’ here in the picture”. This is a well known story in the Far East about love, death, dignity and the victory of human passion. This work is unique because it recreates the old traditions in art where the story is told by means of graphics. And most of the Aksinin’s works contain a complete story.”

Further investigation led to the discovery of the 2001 issue of the art magazine “Galitskaya Brama” printed by the Center of Europe Press, dedicated entirely to the artist. From there I learned that during his short life Aksinin created around 300 graphic works, mostly executed on etchings and copper engravings. His portfolio contains illustrations of Lewis Carroll’s Alice in Wonderland (1976-77) and Jonathan Swift’s Gulliver’s Travels (1977-78). He also worked on The Book of Changes or I Ching, based on Chinese ancient philosophy (1984-85); a series of etchings dedicated to the Netherlands’s artist Hieronymus Bosch (1977-78); Signs of the Zodiac (1979); Sounds (1980); Months (1980); Words (1980-81); Mail of Alexander Aksinin (1983-85) and bookplates for relatives, friends and numerous acquaintances.

One of the themes that interested me the most was I Ching or the Book of Changes. The oracles in ancient times used this book to predict the future and this text became a source of wisdom and provided a foundation for Confucian philosophy.

I think that Alexander Aksinin and his graphic work contributed to the interpretation of such complex works. Here we have an example of one of the artist’s prints dedicated to the Book of Changes , translated from Chinese by Richard Wilhelm.

“This hexagram is number 52. The image of this hexagram is the mountain, the youngest son of heaven and earth. It calls for peace and tranquility. When a man has become calm, he may turn to the outside world. He no longer sees in it struggle of individual beings, and therefore he has the true peace of mind which is needed for understanding the great laws of the universe and for acting in harmony with them. Possibly the words of the text embody directions for the practice of yoga.”

It would be unfair not to mention the influence of such artists as Bosch and Bruegel to Aksinin’s work given that there is an entire series called “Boschiniana”. Moreover, his work “Tower of Babel Will be Built” was executed reminiscing Bruegel’s “Tower of Babel”. There are some symbols used in his illustrations frequently found in these two great masters as well.

One of these metaphorical symbols is a fruit, associated with carnal, physical pleasure. Borrowing some of this secret language, Aksinin created his own metaphysical world. Here is presented a bookplate of my collection illustrating an example of his utilization of these symbols.

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