Surrealist Alexey Kondakov finds Baroque styles still relevant today.
By Madeline Brik.
Through art, time travel can be possible—or at least artist Alexey Kondakov thinks so. The surrealist documentary photographer conveys the classic idiom “history repeats itself” through his Instagram gallery in which he places mid-19th century figures in a contemporary setting. Through this process, Kondakov creates a new narrative for the classic figures.
Six years ago, Kondakov recognized himself in the Caesar van Everdingen painting Bacchus on a Throne Nymphs Offering Bacchus Wine and Fruit. Despite the work’s characteristic Baroque grandeur, Kondakov recognized that eating fruit and drinking wine are just as relevant today as they were in 1670. “It was (and it is now) a funny, clever practice for imagination. I’m just having fun this way,” Kondakov told Mission.
The artist came to coin himself a surrealistic documentary photographer after he received praise from photography editorials. The name of his style matches the opposing elements in his work, as his collage style’s appeal comes from the collision of different centuries.
Many of the figures that Kondakov cuts and pastes on his photographs are from the 19th century or earlier. Primarily, he draws from the eras of Realism or Baroque works, the former of which captures an authentic observation of people, while the latter tends to romanticize. Kondakov remixed the realist Jules Joseph Lefebvre’s An Allegory of Victory by changing the heavenly, sky-like background for a bus. The culture shock of the switch in settings is exemplary of his work.
Through his art, Kondakov shares the similarities and differences he finds between himself and the classic figures. “Usually the audience sees themself in my artworks and they are right, nothing special, all these stories are about us,” explained Kondakov. Although old Baroque and Realism pieces may portray a human experience full of grand elements, those people stuck in a painting were doing the same things that we do today.
“Everything changes… by adding new meanings for old heroes” is the sentiment of Kondakov’s art. While his work contains steep contrast, the artist evokes a sense of familiarity to the past.
Image credit: Alexey Kondakov