Madisonville artist’s paintings were an eerie premonition of war in Ukraine | Letters

Artist Alexander Stolin nonetheless has a reasonably sturdy Japanese European accent, although he is spent the final 30 years dwelling on the North Shore. Again in 1992, when he was 29 years previous, he emigrated from the Ukraine, the place he was born.

It could be straightforward to interpret his solo present on the Jonathan Ferrara Gallery as a response to the continued conflict in his former homeland. Black and white work are somber, claustrophobic and gloomy. Stolin mentioned that he primarily based his present fashion on movie noir detective films and the like. The solar by no means fairly shines on this planet he has invented. The entire ambiance is uniformly melancholic.

Stolin’s work definitely appear to mirror the helplessness and ache he’s experiencing as he watches the occasions in Ukraine on CNN.

But it surely’s not that easy. A lot of the work have been completed in 2020 and 2021, earlier than the conflict began. They aren’t a response to the Russian invasion, they’re a pessimistic premonition.

Stolin, 59, had carved out a spot for himself on the New Orleans artwork scene within the early 2000s. He was represented by a gallery on Julia Road and gained a following.

Then it appeared to vanish. Nothing dramatic had occurred, it was simply that his fatherhood and his day job as a performing artist within the movie trade saved him busy, too busy for a second profession as a painter.

“I obtained concerned in the actual world,” he mentioned.


See the atomic bomb take a look at home, on this element from Alexander Stolin’s portray ‘Crystal Ball: Silence’, at Jonathan Ferrara Gallery, 400A Julia Road

Only a query of when

However in recent times, he has returned to his brushes. Center age was a time of nostalgia and analysis. It was time to reconcile her two selves, the one from Louisiana and the Ukrainian under. Being Ukrainian, Stolin mentioned, will be difficult.

Stolin mentioned her father was Jewish and her mom Japanese Orthodox, however throughout the Soviet period it was not straightforward to precise both religion. Stolin mentioned his household had endured the hardships of communism, World Conflict II, the Chilly Conflict, after which turmoil and insecurity after the autumn of the Soviet Union. The current Russian invasion, he mentioned, was not a shock. No shock in any respect. Russia had been a relentless risk for years.

To be Ukrainian, he mentioned, is to anticipate profound disruption. Stolin mentioned he grew up with the creed: “It is not a query of if, it is only a query of when.”

And that is what Stolin’s exhibit, “Reminiscences Venture,” is all about. In a single portray, younger youngsters construct sandcastles on the seaside whereas plane carriers lurk within the ocean behind them. In one other, a household consults a crystal ball whereas sitting beneath a portray of a take a look at home that was constructed to find out the ability of an atomic bomb. The solar rises in a portray, however the sky continues to be smoky grey, as a squadron of silver fighter jets flies overhead. The one smiles seen all through the exhibit are within the masks of the youngsters dressed as goblins or clowns in Stolin’s portray “Halloween.”


The one smiles in all the exhibit are on the faces of the goblin/clown masks in Alexander Stolin’s “Halloween” portray (element).

Dwelling the dream

If there’s any escape from this joyless world, it is perhaps represented by the 48-star flag of the USA within the background of Stolin’s portray of an elementary college class titled “Say Cheese.” Possibly escape is the reply?

Stolin mentioned she at all times knew she had distant household dwelling in the USA. After the autumn of the Berlin Wall, whereas the communist energy wavered, he took the chance to affix them. He first traveled to San Francisco, then virtually instantly to Hattiesburg, Mississippi, the place long-lost cousins ​​lived. These cousins ​​inspired him to remain within the area. He met a girl. His American life had begun.

After all, Stolin mentioned, he’s full of rage, remorse and disbelief in regards to the conflict on the opposite aspect of the world. “I reside it and I breathe it,” he mentioned.

To grasp his emotions, he asks us to think about if the place we grew up in was continuously being destroyed earlier than our eyes. Nevertheless, he additionally asks us to not contemplate him a sufferer. Having telephone conversations with previous associates within the Ukraine who’re holding out within the bomb shelters has made him conscious about his personal security and luxury in Madisonville.


The American flag in Alexander Stolin’s portray ‘Say Cheese’ (element) might indicate the potential of escape.

“I am dwelling the dream,” he mentioned, with out irony.

Just a few months in the past, Stolin visited the Jonathan Ferrara gallery to see an exhibition by an previous good friend. Ferrara requested if he was nonetheless making artwork. Stolin mentioned that, in truth, he was. However he instructed Ferrara “It’s extremely darkish; I do not know who would need it.”

However Ferrara wager we’d. Take a break from the festivities on Saturday white linen evening occasion on the block to go to Stolin’s bittersweet return to the superb artwork scene and momentarily permit himself to immerse himself in the actual world.

The Jonathan Ferrara Gallery is positioned at 400A Julia Road. “Reminiscences Venture” continues till August 27. For extra data, go to gallery web site.


Alexander Stolin’s ‘Dawn’ does not look notably sunny.

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