Hand colored linolium cuts
(1950 - 1996)
Alexander Ivanov was born in Leningrad (St.Petersburg), Russia in 1950. As a child he spent much of his time in the Hermitage Museum nurturing his interest in classical and ancient Russian art and by the age of 11 began to experiment with painting. At age 16, Ivanov began studies at the Leningrad Art and Graphic School where he received a classical training. It was his new found love of 60s jazz music and the influences of Chagall that began to be reflected in his work and cause problems with tutors and officials.
Given the social and polf itical climate of Russia at the time, Formalism and individualism would not be tolerated; Socialist realism was the only accepted form of art. Unable to live with the repression of individual expression, Ivanov left the art school in 1972, his 4th year and decided to search for freedom by joining a geological expedition to the North of Russia. As he always had a romantic notion, he decided to settle near Archangelsk. There he became absorbed with the traditions and folk art of the region. He adopted forms of Russian icons into his work and a traditional woodwork technique (Lubek) which can be seen in his work ever since.
Although he exhibited in small exhibitions throughout the early 70's, his first one man show in 1977 opened and closed the same day, victim of official repression. It was about this time in Leningrad that artists were beginning to organize clandestine exhibitions of their works in private appartments. This drew Ivanov back to Leningrad where he joined a group of artists and was able to exhibit his work there and in Moscow. This was a period of great artistic activity for him and an almost specific style of expression emerged, led by artists Mikhail Chemiakin and Gennadiev, of which Ivanov was one of the leading lights.
Despite his activity as a painter and a printmaker he was obliged to work in a boiler room to support his family. Such work was a common recourse to intellectuals then, but he was able to spend much of his spare time making musical instruments, as music remains one of his great interests. Musical instruments and players figure consistently in his artwork today.
In the late 1980's several Moscow firms published illustrations and calendars of Ivanov's images and his work was discovered by the German government, who invited him to take part in a Russian/German symposium. From there he was invited to exhibit in Holland and England. His work was then discovered by galleries in America and Japan and is now widely exhibited throughout the world.
In 1996 Ivanov died in a tragic accident, a fire in his studio in St.Petersburg.