Aleksander Kedrin: Formulae of Creation
(Photo above: Aleksander Kedrin in his New York studio)
The art book, “Aleksander Kedrin: Formulae of Creation”, was published in June of 2017 in Moscow. It contains critical and biographical essays about the artist, as well as personal accounts of his creative journey from his own perspective. This text is my English translation of an earlier Russian volume that was presented at the 2014 exhibition of Kedrin’s work in Moscow. Additionally, the current volume contains photography of his ceramic works, as well as several portraits of the artist that I took in his studio.
I have known Aleksander for decades, his sons and I were high school friends. When he asked me to work on this project, I was both delighted and anxious. Having spent years talking about our mutual love for poetry, I respected Aleksander’s knowledge and talent. But taking on the task of translating his words into English was a serious responsibility. Could I keep his poetic spirit alive in a foreign tongue? So much of what he says is lyrical already, but the challenge is further enhanced by his use of poetic quotes throughout his essays. While some of the poems have had earlier translations, I often chose to do my own in an attempt to stick closer to Aleksander’s reading of the texts. As a student of literature and history, I knew about the Soviet repressions of artistic expression. But Aleksander’s personal story, his and his family’s struggles with the regime were eye-opening and often shocking.
In addition to his own essays, the book contains many personal accounts written by those close to Aleksander: artists, poets and sculptors. If you want to really know a person, listen to what those around him tell you. The famous sculptor, Ernst Neizvestny, calls Kedrin a “hermit of cosmic depths”; the painter, Garry Zilberman, adds “blessed with divine talent”; and the architect, Andrey Kossinsky, calls him “a true synthesis of East and West.” To me, Aleksander is a poet with a paintbrush. He works in colors and feelings, seamlessly melting deep existential desire and emotion with poetic optimism and the human will.
(Above - Ceramic plates decorated with Chamotte, Glass, Smalt and Colored Glaze (1975-1985) as well as a larger 4 piece ceramic relief - in the middle - from the same period)
Working on this book with Aleksander Kedrin has been wonderful. To steep myself in his world, the world of his father and of post-war Tashkent, was an experience akin to time travel. I hope to visit the Tashkent Metro Station he created (Avenue of the Cosmonauts) one day, as well as his other monumentalist works. I am happy to present a few of my photos that were included in the book, put together by Люсинэ Петросян and Alyona Kalyanova of Галерея ARTSTORY. They did an amazing job curating the project and I can only wish I was in Moscow for the opening of the gallery show itself. The invitation alone is worth a thousand words. Thank you, both, for the work on this project.