PF 1982 (New Year Greeting Cards)

Alexander Aksinin

  • PF 1982 (New Year Greeting Cards) 2
Basic information
Alexander Aksinin
PF 1982 (New Year Greeting Cards)
Date of creation
imprint on paper
Dimensions (height x width, cm)
13.5 x 8.5
Information about author
Alexander Aksinin
Artist's lifetime
Alexander Aksinin was a graphic artist and one of the brightest representatives of Lviv nonconformist culture. He was born on October 2, 1949 in Lviv in the family of a military cartographer and railroad official of the Lviv railway. Between 1963 and 1966, he received his art education at the evening art school in Lviv. Between 1967 and 1972, the artist continued his studies at the Ivan Fedorov Ukrainian Polygraphic Institute, where he specialized in Graphic Art. After graduation, Aksinin served in the Soviet Army, where he participated in the design of the exposition of the Military History Museum. Between 1974 and 1977, he worked as an art designer in an industrial design office. In 1977, he left the official service and began to work exclusively as a freelance artist. The apartment of Aksinin and his wife, the writer and artist Engelina (Gelya) Buriakovska (1944–1982), became one of the Lviv centers of informal art; first home exhibitions were held here. Alexander and Gelya were well acquainted with the representatives of the cultural underground of Moscow and Leningrad, in particular, with Dmitri Prigov, Viktor Krivulin, Ilya Kabakov, and others. They also had friendly relations with Baltic artists, first of all, with Tonis Vint, with whom Alexander developed a close rapport, and Polish ones. Since 1974, Aksinin participated in group exhibitions; in 1979, his first personal exhibition was organized in Tallinn with the assistance of the artist Tonis Vint. In the early 1980s, the poet Viktor Krivulin helped to arrange several of Aksinin's "kvartirnik" exhibitions in Leningrad and Moscow. On May 3, 1985, on his way back from Tallinn, Alexander Aksinin died in a plane crash over Zolochiv near Lviv. During his lifetime, the artist created 343 etchings, about 200 sheets of unique drawn graphics (drawings in watercolor, Indian ink, and gouache, including prints), as well as five paintings. 27 volumes of the artist's diaries for the period from 1965 to 1985 contain more than 200 sketches and a large number of drawings-ideas; they are partially publicly available on the artist's personal website. In 2015, Alexander Aksinin's etching series "Boskhiana" was included in the permanent exposition of the Jheronimus Bosch Art Center in Hertogenbosch, the Netherlands. The works are stored in the Lviv National Art Gallery, the Estonian Art Museum, and the National Art Museum of Ukraine. In 1981, Alexander Aksinin wrote his laconic autobiography for an article by Viktor Krivulin, in which he consciously contrasted his inner world with external events, combining the facts of his biography with his own artistic and metaphysical experience: “In 1949, a seemingly Russian man was born in the seemingly European city of Lviv. Orthodox Christian. In 1972 – received a diploma from the Polygraphic Institute in the field of Graphic Art. In 1977 – the first revelation with a concomitant sense of time. In 1981 – the second revelation with a concomitant sense of eternity. In 1979 – the first solo exhibition in Tallinn. In 1981 – the second one in Poland. That is all.”
Object description
The creative world of Alexander Aksinin is characterized by a condensed intellectual atmosphere, which is full of "codes of aesthetic information". Numerous etchings by Aksinin are miniature "philosophical essays" embodied in complex systems of visual as well as literary and verbal texts.
PF (French pour fèliciter – for congratulations) is one of 18 etchings from a New Year Greeting Cards series. The artist had given them to his friends and acquaintances since 1974. There are five versions of this work. In the first two variants, the composition is arranged in a regular rhombus. The next three have truncated sides, resulting in irregular hexagon imprints. The author did it so that the greeting card could be placed in an envelope. In the last works, including the one kept in Borys Voznytskyi Lviv National Art Gallery, the entire field of the etching as well as the background in the center of the composition are darkened.
On a dark background, one can see a complex composition. Its lower part is formed by a slingshot with a pointed end at the bottom, which can be interpreted as both a sharpened pencil and a thermometer reservoir. The needles are inserted into the ends of the lateral diagonal slopes, which make them look like medical syringes. Between the slopes, in a triangular hollow that is partially filled with bubbly liquid, there is a schematically depicted female figure. She pushes her legs through the bubbles of New Year champagne that is spraying up over her. A bowl with two sticks is between the woman’s breasts, whereas a similar bowl with a Christmas tree is places on her noseless head. The bowl is repeated in the upper part of the composition although it is depicted in a larger format. The upper bowl, which is reminiscent of a boat with oars and has a large eyeball in the center, dominates in the work. Two winged snakes tied with their tails to the slingshot’s slopes support the boat-bowl from the sides. The plane of the boat and the eye around the pupil are decorated with balls-circles, which look like bubbles between the slopes of the slingshot. Similar bubbles go upwards from the eyelashes; they also decorate the wings of the snakes.
The date of the work, 1982, is depicted in an unusual way. The numbers are written vertically from the bottom up: 1 and 9 are located in the сenter of the slingshot, 8 is on the plane of the boat with an eye, and 2 is placed in the dark background above the eyelashes.
We can see the abbreviation P.F. (Pour fèliciter) and three discs pierced with a straight line on the left slope of the slingshot. A.AKSININ and a small horseshoe are presented on its right side. The artist's monogram, with the numbers 19 and 81 on its both sides, is located at the intersection of the slingshot’s vertical and diagonals. 
Depicting a slingshot in this work of art, the author presents the "bifurcation" as a transition from the previous year of 1981 to the new one of 1982. A similar meaning concerns the number "one" on the handle, which splits into "two" at the top. The scale division represents a calendar that resembles a thermometer’s capillary. This implies the sign of the year’s ending. In the etching, Alexander Aksinin used his own cross-cutting symbols, in particular a boat, an eye, and syringes. They are often repeated in the etchings and non-replicated graphic works of those years (the artist’s wife was seriously ill at that time).