ALEX KUZNETSOV (MINSK, 1978) IS A BELARUSIAN ABSTRACT PAINTER.
Following a lifelong passion for art, a renowned figure in the graffiti world, abstract artist Alex Kuznetsov creates his artworks across different mediums, including paintings, works on paper and prints. His energetic abstractions are awash with swipes of bold colours: blacks and whites, reds, blues and pinks. Colour fascinates Kuznetsov, bringing him to a state of meditative flux, where the process is as important as the result. Engaging with the vibrations of colour, Kuznetsov amplifies them with the power of movement and fully gives himself to an artwork.
One is often tempted to search for a familiar shape in an abstract painting. Vaguely resembling urban imagery – outlines of futuristic cars, contours of helmets, horizon lines with skyscrapers’ spikes – Kuznetsov’s shapes and colours flow, move and intertwine within the space of a canvas. However, in an abstract work the material and medium gain independence, becoming subject matter in its equal right. Departing from Gerhard Richter’s expressive superpositions of paint, Barnett Newman’s colour fields and Pierre Soulages’s outrenoir, Kuznetsov creates a unique body of work, which strikes the viewer with its inner energy. Applying acrylics with huge aluminum rulers, the artist is conscious of his movements: a mechanical gesture, a power of pressure becomes aggravated with meaning. Kuznetsov’s process-led abstract painting practice employs a tempered gestural language where fluidity is a defining material concern and the process of erasure has equal importance to the intuitive application of paint. The artist examines states of presence and remembrance by exploring a tension between control and eventuality.
Painting for Kuznetsov is a constant quest for perfection and reflects his desire to organise the world according to an innate sense of harmony. Kuznetsov does not provide narratives for his abstractions: instead, he sublimates his visions, bringing them to the canvas for the eventual viewer to decipher and identify with. The essence of Kuznetsov’s motivation is best described by Zigmund Freud’s in Formulations of the Two Principles Of Mental Functioning (1911), “An artist is originally a man who turns out from reality because he cannot come to terms with the renunciation of instinctical satisfaction which it at first demands. [...] He finds his way back to reality, however, from this world of phantasy by making use of special gifts to mould his phantasies into truths of a new kind, which are valued by men as precious reflections of reality.” (Freud, 1975, SE, XII: 224).
Born in 1978 in Minsk, Belorussia, his mother’s family rooted in Vitebsk, Alex Kuznetsov was attracted to painting from early childhood years. He became a graphic designer, then discovered spray paint in 1997; thus began his journey in the world of street art. Signed with the nicknames of Liquid, Ners, Awek, Temos and Monk, his tags soon became well-known all over post-Soviet territories as well as in Europe. On a visit to a Hong Kong commercial gallery in 2010, an enormous bright-red canvas captivated his imagination and impressed Alex with the power of pure colour. Later in the same year news of the Moscow metro bombing caught Alex on his balcony, staring at five canvases which a friend had left behind. Alex unpacked his sprays and started exploring a new medium. He never stopped.
Alex Kuznetsov lives between Moscow and Berlin. He collaborates extensively with publications, brands and private institutions such as Vogue, Absolut, Tumi, Adidas and Prince Albert II of Monaco Foundation. His solo exhibitions were held in Lida Historical and Art Museum, National Palace of Art and National Center for Contemporary Arts of the Republic of Belarus, MSK Eastside Gallery in Moscow, Russia, Mirus Gallery in San Francisco, US. His work has been shown and collected around the world, including New York, San Francisco, London, Seoul, Hong Kong, Brussels, Geneva, Paris, Monaco, Barcelona, Moscow and Minsk. Alex Kuznetsov is represented in Switzerland by Speerstra gallery.