Wind Rose (Sheet 8 from the graphic cycle “Jonathan Swift's Kingdom of Absurdity”)

Alexander Aksinin

  • Wind Rose (Sheet 8 from the graphic cycle “Jonathan Swift's Kingdom of Absurdity”)  2
  • Wind Rose (Sheet 8 from the graphic cycle “Jonathan Swift's Kingdom of Absurdity”)  3
Basic information
Alexander Aksinin
Wind Rose (Sheet 8 from the graphic cycle “Jonathan Swift's Kingdom of Absurdity”)
Date of creation
imprint on paper
Dimensions (height x width, cm)
29.7 x 29.3
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 eighth sheet of 11 etchings from the graphic cycle "Jonathan Swift's Kingdom of Absurdity". The artist himself wrote down several names of his compositions in his diary. He named one of them as "Wind Rose". This name best corresponds to this etching.
In addition to "Gulliver's Travels", A. Aksinin was inspired by "A Tale of a Tub", J. Swift's first pamphlet written between 1694 and 1697. Chapter VIII of the Tale deals with the Aeolian philosophers (named after Aeolus, the Greek god of winds), who considered the wind to be the root cause of everything. Man, as it were, brings the crumbs of wind into existence. Priests of this doctrine often face the wind with their mouths open in order to then eructate these crumbs for the good of mankind.
The artist depicted the settlement of priests in the form of a building resembling the Colosseum, with a maze inside of it, which unfolds from a scroll of the sheet, representing a fence composed of vertical boards. The facade of the unfolded building has three tiers. In the arches of the lower tier there are greasy human tongues, which, in sequence, are either nailed down or holding the bowls, which are apparently filled with small pebbles from the air. Bowls with the same pebbles are present in the arches of the second tier; on the third tier, one can see the hung bells. The so-called Colosseum is separated from the outside world by a ditch and a high fence covered with sharp spikes. Similar spikes are visible on the wall boards scrolled inward. Both empty and filled buckets are installed at the top of the outer fence. Long poles with nets are stretched upwards from the spiral scroll walls, into which small pebbles fly with a gust of wind. Some nets have tongues; two tongues take rest, bending over the fence of the maze. One of the boards of the outer fence is broken open and thrown over the ditch like a bridge on which lies a dice. Through the hole in the place of the broken open board, one can see the water space with a sailboat on the horizon. From the bridge, a snail and a rabbit crawl towards the tongues along the plank road interspersed with pebbles. To the right of the "Colosseum" lurked a stag beetle, next to which is a diagonally written inscription A. AKSININ–1978. Small round pebbles fill almost the whole space of the composition, in particular they are in the sky, on the vertical wall panels, and on the ground; they are also scattered on the tongues in the arches. The small elements of the images force the viewer to focus on certain details and try to enter into the mysterious world created by the artist. The author maximizes the laconic composition of the work, in which a clear vertical rhythm is combined with the rotation of the spiral in the center. Three diagonal poles at the top with oval objects hanging on them enrich the structural design of the work.
Imitating the compositional completeness and symbolic basic principles of Hieronymus Bosch and Pieter Bruegel the Elder, the Dutch artists of the 15th–16th centuries, A. Aksinin reflects, in Aesop's language, the reality of his time, which is filled with needless chatter, hare-brained plans, and absurd decisions.
At the bottom right under the imprint there is an author's inscription "A. Aksinin – 78"