‘Amanita’s work is mesmerising, not only for his phenomenal craftsmanship with ink, but also for its wry political humour in the vast context of Soviet history.’
- Thomas Heatherwick
Amanita (Russian b. 1972)
Indian ink, pen on paper
80 x 60 cm
Series reveals the artist’s highly idiosyncratic engagement with the world, which is simultaneously fantastical, surreal and darkly satirical. At first glance the drawings look like medieval illuminated manuscripts. This is no accident, for just as those artists inveigled hidden meanings into their work, so does Amanita.
Aminita was born in Kazakhstan, but as a former citizen of the old USSR he has been immersed in Russian culture from birth. For that reason he sees the country as an insider and outsider, a position which allows him to freely explore its transition from the vast and sprawling empire of his childhood, for which he admits a sense of nostalgia, into an autocratic petrostate.
While it has been tempered recently, oil has undoubtedly been the source of Russia’s recent assertiveness on the international stage, as well as the source of wealth for a small Russian elite, not least Putin; inevitably this made ordinary people indignant about their country becoming what is commonly held to be a kleptocracy, not least because they feel marginalised by this oil bonanza.
While political themes pervade his work, Amanita is not a political artist per se. His drawings are wry, crackling with visual jokes and mercurial connections and associations, as well as flashes of surrealism.
The works in ComMOONism (2016) look back to the 1950s and 1960s, taking a satirical swipe at what was seen as the high tide of the Communist era, when the Soviets led America in the so-called ‘space race’. The Revoloution series, also from 2016, meditates on the nature of revolution, wryly commenting on the fact that while the instigators of change are usually poets, dreamers and romantics, these people are seldom seen manning the barricades.