Artists’ paintings in Madisonville were a chilling obsession with the war in Ukraine | Arts

Artist Alexander Stolin nonetheless has a really sturdy Japanese European accent, regardless that he has spent the previous 30 years residing on the North Shore. In 1992, when he was 29 years previous, he emigrated from Ukraine, the place he was born.

It will be simple to interpret his solo exhibition on the Jonathan Ferrara Gallery as a response to the continuing conflict in his former homeland. The black and white work are shaded, stifling and gloomy. Stolen mentioned he based mostly his present fashion on detective noir movies and the like. The solar by no means shines on the planet it invented. The entire environment is uniformly unhappy.

Stolin’s work definitely mirror the helplessness and unhappiness he feels as he watches occasions in Ukraine unfold on CNN.

However it’s not that straightforward. A lot of the work had been accomplished in 2020 and 2021, earlier than the conflict started. It isn’t a response to the Russian invasion, it is a pessimistic obsession.

Stolen, 59, was already carving out a spot for himself within the New Orleans artwork scene within the early 2000s. He was represented by the Julia Road Gallery and gained quite a lot of followers.

Then it appeared to vanish. Nothing dramatic occurred, it was simply fatherhood and his day job as a panorama artist within the movie trade saved him busy – too busy for a second profession as a painter.

“It is wrapped up in the true world,” he mentioned.


Be aware the house of the atomic bomb check, on this element from Alexander Stolen’s portray “Crystal Ball: Silence”, at Jonathan Ferrara Gallery, 400A Julia Road

Only a query about when?

However over the previous few years, he is been again in his brushes. Center age was a time of nostalgia and analysis. It’s time to reconcile himself, the Louisiana and the Ukrainian beneath him. Stolin mentioned being Ukrainian may be difficult.

Stolin mentioned that his father was Jewish and his mom was Japanese Orthodox, however in the course of the Soviet period, it was not simple to precise any of the beliefs. Stolin mentioned his household suffered privations from communism, World Conflict II, the Chilly Conflict, after which confusion and insecurity after the autumn of the Soviet Union. He mentioned the current Russian invasion was no shock. No surprise in any respect. Russia has been a relentless risk for years.

He mentioned that being Ukrainian means anticipating deep turmoil. Stolen mentioned he grew up with the dogma: “It isn’t a query of whether or not it is only a query of when.”

And that is what Stolin’s exhibition, “The Recollections Undertaking” is all about. In a single portray, younger boys construct sandcastles on the seashore whereas plane carriers lie within the ocean behind them. In one other case, a household consults a crystal ball, whereas sitting beneath a board of a check home constructed to find out the energy of an atomic bomb. The solar is shining in one of many panels, however the sky remains to be grey, like a swarm of silver fight drones. The one smiles seen in the whole exhibition had been on the masks of youngsters dressed as goblins or clowns in Stolen’s portray “Halloween”.


The one smiles in the whole gallery are on the faces of the elf/clown masks in Alexander Stolen’s portray “Halloween” (element).

dwell the dream

If there was any escape from this fun-free world, it could be represented by the 48-star US flag within the background of Stolen’s portray of an elementary college class picture titled Say Cheese. Possibly escape is the reply?

Stolen mentioned he all the time knew he had a distant household residing in the US. After the autumn of the Berlin Wall, with communist energy waning, he seized the chance to affix them. He traveled first to San Francisco, after which virtually instantly to Hattiesburg, Mississippi, the place his long-lost cousins ​​lived. His cousins ​​inspired him to remain within the space. met a girl. His American life started.

After all, Stolen mentioned, he was stuffed with anger, remorse, and disbelief in regards to the conflict on the opposite facet of the world. “I dwell and breathe,” he mentioned.

To know his emotions, he asks us to think about whether or not the place we grew up in is steadily being devastated earlier than our eyes. But he additionally asks us to not think about him a sufferer. Having telephone conversations with previous mates in Ukraine who reside in shelters made him totally conscious of his security and luxury in Madisonville.


The American flag in Alexander Stolin’s portray Say Cheese (intimately) might point out the opportunity of escape.

“I am residing the dream,” he mentioned with out sarcasm.

Just a few months in the past, Stolen visited the Jonathan Ferrara Gallery to see an exhibition of an previous buddy. Ferrara requested him if he nonetheless made artwork. Certainly, Stolen mentioned, it was. However he advised Ferrara, “It is actually darkish. I do not know who desires that.”

However Ferrara wager on it. Take a break from the festivities throughout Saturday’s White Linen Evening Celebration to go to Stolin’s bittersweet return to the advantageous arts scene and permit your self to momentarily immerse your self in the true world.

The Jonathan Ferrara Gallery is situated at 400A Julia Road. The Recollections Undertaking runs till August 27. For extra data, go to the exhibition web site.


The movie “Dawn” by Alexander Stolin doesn’t look significantly sunny.

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