Controversial artist imagines Moscow as new Rome

Fri Apr 13, 2012 1:50pm EDT
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By Nastassia Astrasheuskaya

MOSCOW (Reuters) - Artist Alexei Beliayev-Guintovt is shunned by many in the Russian art scene for the fascist symbolism of his past work.

His latest project is no less polemic. It imagines Moscow as a latter-day Rome: the capital of a Eurasian empire where red Soviet-style stars and onion-shaped domes punctuate the skyline.

"I represent a utopia, a non-existent place... but also a call for the unreal, for a dream, for something that does not exist," Guintovt said at the opening of his exhibit in Triumph Gallery, near the Red Square.

Unlike most local contemporary artists, who portray post-Soviet Russia as decrepit and struggling to catch up with the West, Guintovt portrays his native land as a glorious nation at the peak of its power and global influence.

He says his art is a call for Moscow not to turn its back on the East and embrace both its European and Asian roots.

"The project combines the origins of the world's greatest traditions, Islam, Buddhism and Orthodoxy, the Kremlin being the sacred centre of the gigantic Eurasian continent," he said.

An architect by education, Guintovt's art is a blueprint for Moscow as an ultra-modern city, but he balances his futuristic designs by mixing them with artisanal materials. His paintings are printed on felt in a reference to the materials used by Central Asian nomads in yurt tents.

The exhibit, named after the geographical coordinates of the Kremlin, also incorporates slide projection.   Continued...