Following meningitis at the age of seven, Alexander Lobanov became deaf-and-mute. As he was rebellious and frequently aggressive, his family had him committed to a psychiatric hospital when he was twenty-three. During the first years of hospitalization, he was often agitated and violent, but finally accepted his fate and withdrew into himself. At the age of thirty, he began drawing : with ink, pencil, colored pencils and later on also felt-tip pens. In the beginning he never showed his drawings. Once they were finished, he put them in a small suitcase that he never left. In the seventies Lobanov became passionate about photography. For his photographic portraits he would stage himself, creating his own environment constituted by firearms and guns from cardboard paper, but also drawings and ornamental symbols originally used by the communist propaganda.
Lobanov’s artistic production consists of several thousands of drawings. ”Full of assonances and formal alliterations, Lobanov’s works silently echo the firing of guns at some imaginary hunt, writes Béatrice Steiner. Here, a strident eye condenses in one image the iris striated by guns and the target it aims at, matching the subject with its intention - a radiating form that finds its echo elsewhere, in the wheels that take us to the hunt. Somewhere else, the red colour of certain arms evokes in advance the blood that will be shed and the bows of the boat transporting the hunters stand for the long-awaited duck. The representations are thus organised as a declension of the hopes of a hunter, a true hunting of the objects of desire, where each element echoes the one that follows, similarly to the successive waves caused by a pebble thrown into water. From symmetry to formal repetitions, all elements contribute to the totalitarian rigidity of the work : only one intention directs these representations as puppets subjected to one and the same thread, Lobanov’s unforgettable gaze. Lost, sometimes drowning, it also reveals the unrelenting anxiety.”
SEE ALSO :
Decharme, Bruno, ed. Alexandre Lobanov et L’Art brut en Russie. Paris : abcd, 2003.
De Miscault, Dominique, and Alain Escudier, ed. Aleksander Pavlovitch Lobanov, auteur d’art brut russe. Paris : Editions Aquilon, 2007.
Back in the U.S.S.R. Figures de l’art brut russe 2. Exhibition catalogue (22 January – 5 March 2010). Paris : Galerie Christian Berst, lelivredart, 2010.