Wednesday, October 7, 2009

The Metaphysical World of Alexander Aksinin I

The Metaphysical World of Alexander Aksinin in Ex Libris


Ilya Libenzon

When I started collecting bookplates a couple of years ago, I was fortunate to make the acquaintance of Nadia Kovalenko, the director of Kharkiv’s bookplate society in Ukraine. After several months of correspondence, she sent me a letter along with the copy of one ex libris of a gifted artist. She said: “… three years ago I discovered the bookplates of Alexander Aksinin. I am sending you one of these bookplates. At the time I thought that this artist is a genius but, unfortunately, I couldn’t find anybody who knew anything more about the artist, except for Nikolai Molochinskiy, Kharkiv’s graphic artist from our ex libris society. He told me that Aksinin is from Lviv, Ukraine, and that he died in a car or plane accident in 1985. And that was all the information I could unearth. Later, I realized that Aksinin had occupied a very special place in my mind.” Nadia asked for my opinion of the ex libris she sent. Here is my attempt to decipher the content of his work.

It is an interesting ex libris, inviting us to interpret its meaning. The technique is superb and the content is even more fascinating. It seems that even from the words “Memorial Ex Libris… one could assume that the work was done for a special occasion such as an anniversary, most like a marriage. This assumption appears to be reinforced by the fortress or house in the form of a cone, symbolizing the family and the red stripes can represent the bond of the couple. As for the apple and pear, I don’t have any particular idea; however, in the aforementioned context the half-eaten apple might symbolize 50 years of married life (associating the apple with Adam and Eve). As for the other fruit, a pear without an apple was always associated with the male’s genitals, although I am not sure how to link it to this particular image. From the look of these two creatures, one could guess that the owners of the bookplate prefer the science fiction titles in their library. The most ambiguous element of this work is the cone. Usually this is associated with the tower of Babel, but in this case the cone appears upside down.

Soon thereafter, Nadia Kovalenko referred me to the excellent article written by Viktor Rivaling, published in the Toronto Slavic Quarterly web journal. There I learned that “Alexander Aksinin (1949-1985) was a graphic artist specializing in engravings. He was killed in an airplane crash while en route to the opening of an exhibition of his works in Tallinn. V. Rivulet’s article was first published in the journal Chasy, no. 36 (1982); portions of it also appeared in K. Kaminski’s Antologgia Globoid lagoon.”

In his article, Victor introduces the reader to one of his won bookplates made by A. Aksinin. I have this bookplate in my collection as well. Here is what the author of the article writes in regards to the work:

“On one of the walls of my apartment hangs a bookplate by Aksinin. There is a strange creature, a semi animal or semi human formed by triangles in the center of an ellipse surrounded by a geometrical ornament on the perimeter at the edge of the figure. It renders a


  1. where u get all these are u working in library

  2. The American Society of Bookplate Collectors & Designers has a museum and reading room at our headquarters in Tucson, Arizona, USA.

    For more information, please visit our pages on Facebook or drop me a line.

    Thanks, James P. Keenan:

  3. Dear James!
    I was born in Lviv, Ukraine. Alexsandr Aksinin and his remarkable wife Angelina Buryakovskaya were my friends for years.
    My email -
    My name is Klara L'aShenko.

  4. Look at