Aleksandr Mushkin and Alena Mushkina’s work is hard to surrender to the common frames of genre. It is often characterized as “Steampunk,” that mechanized and dystopic vision of things broken and healing after dissolution. However, as a true visionary, the Muskins break stereotypes and move their work beyond the usual, pale, trends.
Many art-makers today work to develop Art as a ‘Brand’ using shock content perhaps, or a certain sort of cultural nihilism ala Jeff Koons and his blow-up dolls. The Mushkins differ in their dismissal of hype, and redefine what constitutes a contemporary art form. Their mythic objects are clever asides to the audience, as they merge the skill of a jeweler craftsman with beautifully repurposed junkyard chrome. Their work is full of deep charm and beauty. Each piece reminiscences – full of wry observations and curiosities.
The Muskins’ astonishing creations – ironic or grotesque – always aesthetically justify. Their materials are as precious as others are randomized – antique silver coins mate with shimmering clock parts, optical instruments consort with tin pots, and hodgepodge connectivities morph into glorious creatures with a history all their own. As for a connoisseur with exacting taste, or an untutored spectator with unaffected perception, both will be stayed by the Mushkins’ sumptuous beastry. Their imagination surprises and delights: it helps us see “of what dust flowers grow without shame…” (M.Tsvetayeva). The Mushkins’ works grow. Their reordering of disused and random parts gives rise to a newborn, esthetic life. In the Muskins’ works, old things have become cultural signs symbolizing the victory of the currents of time over the impermanence of man’s folly, for we live in the era of virtual values and fleeting things.
Like the famous writer Marcel Proust, the Mushkins send their imagination in search of lost times. Their art offers us a renaissance where new life emerges reconstructed – a life as much a part of ‘art,’ as it is a part of our collective history. Each piece lives in its own figurative world as surely as it lives in ours.
One can spend endless time viewing the Mushkins’ works, finding new meanings in every tantalizing curve. Each object unfolds, revealing intimate secrets to one who wishes to listen. “Dragon,” is a true masterwork of artistic design and craftsmanship, and made of numerous, quaint elements. It is also fully functional. It contains a striking clock with a vintage porcelain clock face embedded within the beast. It carries on the tradition of past centuries, when clocks were not only instruments for measuring time but, first and foremost, a work of art.
“Dragon” refers to the traditions of the chinoiserie with its stunning oriental flavor. It is an example of refinement and complexity fulfilled. This elaborate, free-standing sculpture, resonates back to traditional Chinese art and is based on echoing the voices of the masters of antiquity. For all its historical allusions, “Dragon” is a modern thing – ironic, grotesque, yet aesthetically refined. One feels one is in the presence of something grand and awful and alive; full of manna; and sure enough in its armature to speak. This layering of technique and style makes a convincing argument in “Dragon,” that dreams really can come true.
Connoisseurs of contemporary art can be assured that the Mushkins’ visionary collection will remain unique and continue to gain position in the collecting world.
Irina Moskvina, art historian, a member of the International Association of art historians and art critics (AICA), Ph.D., associate professor, member of the House of Scientists of the Academy of Sciences A.M.Gorkogo.