all pictures courtesy of Alexander Emelyanov
This art environment in Samara, Russia, started around 2011, is one of the most interesting of Russia because of its continuous thematic as well as spacious development in recent years.
Life and works
Born in 1964 in Tashkent, Russia, Alexander Emelyanov studied pediatrics in the 1980's and then settled as a hospital doctor in Samara, a city in the south-eastern part of European Russia on the east banks of the Wolga River.
An industrial city, Samara is a scientific, educational and cultural center with a number of drama theaters, a ballet theater, an opera house, a philharmonic and various museums and art galleries.
Attracted to the world of art, Emelyanov in the late 1990's as a self-taught artist began making paintings in a naive style. In the course of the years he has made several hundred paintings (a selection of his paintings can be seen on the ArsenalArt website)
Around 2009 Emelyanov added another approach to his artistic activities by examining what he could create in the field of architecture and sculpting from an art brut point of view.
The picture below has an early example of this new approach. Entitled Akvaduk 3 it is a sculpture that probably inspired Emelyanov to continue making creations in the context of akvaduktologa, a selfmade term that denotes a special variety of builded structures with uprights and girders.
The garden around his house has undergone a transformation into an art environment when around 2011 Emelyanov began constructing a huge structure made from used material such as old barrels, pots, parts of a refrigator and so on: the Akvaduk Tashkent 13, as in below picture.
Akvaduk Tashkent 13
This impressive, high rising structure of 4 meters wide and 3 meters high (13.1 x 9.8 ft) along the garden's fence, entitled Akvaduk Tashkent 13, when seen as a whole has the potential of a spaceship, and hides in its details various imaginative scenes, such as the medics in below picture.
Akvaduk Tashkent 13, detail
Various other creative elements in the garden
The garden has been filled with various other items, such as puppets, sculptures, decorated walls, panels with texts or inscriptions....
Some totemlike sculpted elements and structures -as in above picture- mark the entrance to the artist's own art gallery, located in a small cottage.
Indoors Emelyanov has decorated the walls of two rooms with frescoes, executed with oil and acrylic paint.
One frescoe is entitled The temple of the first heaven, the other bears the name Paradise No 2.
Decorating the walls of a house in Russia traditionally is not uncommon, in particular in farmhouses in the countryside. However, Emelyanov's way of painting the frescoes is not traditionally at all. The style of his frescoes may have links with naive art, but then with a lot of references to contemporary ways of expression and themes.
In the same manner, the way Emelyanov has transformed his house and garden into an art environment, in particular his preference to work with cement and iron and with recycled material, is very much in line with other builders of art environments elsewhere in Europe.
With some of these creators, in particular those from Finland, he shares the non-traditional, visionary and often humoristic way of portraying of and commenting upon happenings around.
An ungoing affair
The naive architecture in the garden is an ungoing affair. In 2015 Emelyanov added constructions which depict an airport.
This airport is named F. Cheval 1, a humoristic reference to the famous french postman who created le Palais Ideal (the Ideal Palace).
The picture below portrays the control tower.
The park museum
During 2016 Emelyanov expanded the scope of his activities in the field of outsider art environments, both in conceptual and in practical terms.
He took into service a Парк музей народного и современного искусства "Зубчаниновский (Park museum of folk and contemporary art "Zubchaninovsky").
The site includes a piece of unused land located out of town. The office is equiped with a signboard and some smaller creations already have been arranged.
Emelyanov, the philosopher
Alexander Emelyanov is not only active in the field of folk art, he first of all is interested in philosophy and he describes himself as a “philosopher with visuals”.
His basic view with regard to folk art environments implies that, in fact, each creator of a folk art environment is the author of a philosophical art system, which is designed and constructed using a variety of materials and which is inextricably linked with the place of living and the country of the author.
Most creators of an art environment act on the basis of a relatively simple philosophy which just involves the satisfaction that arises from embellishing their daily environment.
But a small number of creators, who seek self-confirmation by expressing themselves in artwork, operate on a more fundamental philosophical level.
For example Yevgeny M. Malakhin, also known as Bukashkin (1938-2005) from Yekaterinburg, Russia, developed a theory about garbage to the effect that waste can be seen as art or as a base of an artwork, and following this concept he painted murals on concrete fences, garages, walls of buildings, garbage bins and so on.
Another example is Chomo (1907-1999) from France, whose artwork -and his way of life retracted in the woods- derives from a fundamental criticism of the consumer society.
Emelyanov, who as an active philosopher is part of this small number of creators, classifies the art environments made by these creators as mega art environments, wherein mega refers to the more comprehensive nature of the principles underlying the artwork.
Russian Museum of Contemporary Folk Art
click to enlarge
Emelyanov is constantly actively engaged in the development of his art environment. The photo above (March 2018) shows the entrance of the site, as it was recently re-assembled.
The text on the sign on the facade explains what is located here: Русский музей современного народного творчества имени И. В. Карпунова (Russian Museum of contemporary folk art named I.V Karpunov).
With the transformation of the site from art environment to museum, Emelyanov is taking an important step, because it underlines that self-taught artists and art environments deserve a full-fledged place in the art world. The homage to Ivan Karpunov (1909-2004), an artist from a previous generation living in Samara and characterized by a unique handwriting, is fully in accordance with this.
* Alexander Emelyanov, Folk art environments of Russia, from previous to later creations, in OEE-texts (added april 2017)
* A selection of Emelyanov's (recent) creative constructions on the ArtMajeur website
* Facebookpage Narodny muzey igry v soldatiki "Sasha Yemel'yanov" (The National Museum of the game of soldiers "Sasha Emelyanov"), began november 2014. This page has more pictures of the airport referred to in above text.
first published oct 2014, last revised may 2018
Naive architecture-sculpture and frescoes
Samara, Russian Federation
visits on appointment only