Laputa ІІ (Sheet 2 from the graphic cycle “Jonathan Swift's Kingdom of Absurdity”)

Alexander Aksinin

  • Laputa ІІ (Sheet 2 from the graphic cycle “Jonathan Swift's Kingdom of Absurdity”) 2
  • Laputa ІІ (Sheet 2 from the graphic cycle “Jonathan Swift's Kingdom of Absurdity”) 3
Basic information
Alexander Aksinin
Laputa ІІ (Sheet 2 from the graphic cycle “Jonathan Swift's Kingdom of Absurdity”)
Date of creation
imprint on paper
Dimensions (height x width, cm)
29.5 x 29
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
Alexander Aksinin's legacy of graphic works contains a series of etchings based on some literary works, one of which is Jonathan Swift's "Gulliver's Travels" (1977–1978). In this series (as in others, such as Lewis Carroll's "Alice in Wonderland"), Aksinin often turned the texts into part of an image. The creative world of the artist is characterized by a condensed intellectual atmosphere, which is full of "codes of aesthetic information". The art critic Mykhailo Sokolov noted that the artist introduced into his works a subject line, which was to symbolically reproduce not a separate part of the text, but to give the image of the text as a whole, as well as to serve as a sign and matrix of an illustrated verbal work.
This is the second sheet of 11 etchings from the graphic cycle "Jonathan Swift's Kingdom of Absurdity" and one of the earliest works by the artist. The third chapter of the book "Gulliver's Travels" written by Jonathan Swift, the Anglo-Irish satirist of the 17th–18th centuries, became the object of the author's allusion. The story follows the life of Lemuel Gulliver, the hero of "Gulliver's Travels", who lands on the flying island of Laputa, which is a magnetically levitated diamond-based disk. The inhabitants of the island are mathematicians, astronomers, musicians, and engineers who are completely immersed in themselves and distracted from everyday life. To return the Laputans to reality, their servants occasionally use a bag full of peas or pebbles connected to a long stick to hit their masters' ears or eyes to rouse them out of their deep thoughts. Aksinin depicts a fantastic island in the form of a complex structure on hinges, needles, and wheels. People are shown upstairs, in particular one person is climbing a ladder and carrying a fried chicken on a tray placed on their head, someone is playing the double-bass depicted in the form of a split pear, while someone is sitting in a boat, which serves as a bath. All these characters surround a round building with a top in the form of a hat, on the walls of which one can find miniature inscriptions, namely USA, Lagado, and Laputa. Lagado is the name of the academy for the islanders. Long poles with bells at the top diverge from the building in the form of a fan. The same bells are in the niches of its walls. Below and next to it are numerous images of pipes and sacks of peas. In the lower part of the composition there are only mechanisms, among which single objects seem to be lost. In this work, the artist imitates the compositional completeness and symbolic basic principles of Hieronymus Bosch, the Dutch artist of the 15th–16th centuries.
At the bottom right under the imprint there is an author's inscription "A. Aksinin – 78"