Igor Moukhin by Taryn Jones. Art in Russia

igor moukhin, modern photo, street photo, мухин, стрит фото - Art in Russia

Considered to be one of ’s most brilliant contemporary photographers, Igor Vladimirovich Moukhin was in on November 19, 1961.  Although he realized his passion for photography at the age of 16, he worked as a heating technician and yard cleaner for several years before actively pursuing an artistic education. Finally, between 1984 and 1985, he attended classes at the studio of Alexander Lapin, a prominent Muscovite who organized the “studio of artistic photographers” in State University’s of Culture between 1985 and 1987.

From 1987 onwards, Moukhin regularly held exhibitions of his work. He spent several years photographing musicians of the Soviet underground music during the Perestroika years of the 19, a decade that was to prove instrumental in his work’s growth. Moukhin quickly became known for his portraits of renowned musicians Viktor Tsoi, Boris Grebenshikov, and Petr Mamonov among others.

From Young People (1985-1989)

It has been said that Moukhin is an artist who was fortunate enough to find himself in the right place at the right time. He began work during Perestroika and Glasnost, and his rise to prominence traces the waning years of Communism and the blossoming of new Russian capitalism. He began work as a free-lance Art 1989. In 1988, his work was published in Artemy Troitsky’s work “Back in the : The True Story of in ”.  In 1990, his work was published in another of Troitsky’s works, “Tusovka: Who’s Who in the New Soviet Culture”. Moukhin photographed a fading subculture, and, while collections of his work sell for tens of thousands of dollars today, he did it only for art’s sake.

Beginning at the onset of perestroika in 1985, Moukhin’s work was displayed and published not only in the Soviet Union but abroad.  In 1988 the onset of his collections and Soviet Monuments shot him to prominence amongst the leaders of the new era of Russian photography. , which features details of Soviet propaganda posters and other Soviet artwork, is typical of some of Moukhin’s work, which turns Soviet symbolism on its head by highlighting the transient, fading nature of art that was designed to inspire and unite a nation. Through Moukhin’s gaze, the now destabilized symbols lose their potency. The series coincided with the West’s rising interest in early Soviet posters, such as those designed by Alexander Rodchenko, the co-founder of the Constructivist movement.

From Soviet Monuments (1988-2005)

Moukhin was an original member (1989-91) of the group “Immediate Photography” (Группа «Непосредственная фотография»), founded by fellow artist and Alexei Shulgin in as a movement against ideologically stereotypical Socialist Realist .  Аt the time, Moukhin was shooting his 1985-1989 series, Young People, which featured the youth of in everyday situations, from communal shower rooms to arm wrestling competitions and groups smoking in bars.  The subjects of Young People were ordinary youths, ranging from the downright nerdy to pseudo hippies and rockers who wouldn’t look out of place in the West.   It was this style of photography that attracted critics’ attention, as it showed the world in the raw, without filters or interpretations.  It soon became clear to those in the art that Moukhin had the ability to adeptly grasp the paradoxes of nature and mankind.

It has been said that Moukhin’s work has not only great artistic, but also great documentary, value.   Many have claimed that he is actually more talented at visual storytelling than are many of today’s professional photojournalists. Sometimes it is unclear whether he is a photojournalist working within the framework of modern art, or a modern artist working within the bounds of photojournalism.  It is this unique vision that has contributed to his popularity. His work has a certain effortlessness and casualness about it, although nothing he creates is purely accidental. Many have, in fact, called him a sniper, due to his propensity to hunt for details in order to attain perfection.

From Benches (1992-1995)

It is this talent for capturing details that contributes greatly to his popularity. Not only was he in the right place at the right time to memorialize the collapse of the Soviet Union and the rise of New , but he found himself in two weeks before the outbreak of the 2008 war.  Again, in keeping with his signature style, his subjects are captured without the appearance of staging: smoking, drinking, swimming in the sea and playing chess. When one considers that many of the images were taken less than a month before the outbreak of hostilities, they are cast in a particularly poignant light, as Georgians bask in the fading days of a peaceful summer.

Although many Russian artists and photographers remain largely unknown outside of the former Soviet Union, Moukhin has risen to popularity and renown abroad.  In 1999, he received a grant from the Parisian mayoArtponsored by the French Fonds National d’Art ContArtorain (The National Fund for Contemporary Art) in order to produce a work commemorating the turn of the millennium. At this time, he undertook a series known in English simply as , which shows that there is more to the famed ‘city of light’ than just the iconic Eiffel Tower. For example one shot portrays a drunk with his pants wide open. Typical of his work in the Soviet Union and , is a mirror held up to the city and its youth.

Since then, Moukhin has been far from a stranger on the French arts , as several of his works from the series Soviet Monuments, Benches, , Soviet Children’s Playgrounds, Night and Provinces, among others, were displayed in 2007 at the Parisian art space, Maison Rouge . He has also had work hung at ’ Le Carré Noir.  Rather unusually for many modern Russian artists, Moukhin’s work has not only been displayed in France but elsewhere worldwide. Other countries of include the Netherlands, Latvia, Denmark, France, Austria, Sweden, China and the United States.

In «Wedding. Mtskheta. June 2008»

This popularity has led to several awards and much recognition, both at home and abroad.  He has been a member of the International Federation of Artists since 1994, and in that same year, he received the “Man of Art” State Prize of .  In 1996, he spoke at the Fourth International Conference of Photography in Riga, Latvia on the topic of “The Image: A Phenomenon of Everyday Culture”.  He has taught at the Independent Academy of and the Independent Academy of Photographic Arts in Kiev.  A collection of forty-one gelatin silver prints in the series entitled My Moscow and Monuments, taken between 1989 and 2004, was recently estimated at a worth of £10,000 to £15,000 ($16,000-$24,000).

Moukhin’s photographic talent continues to garner increased popularity and international attention. His photojournalistic talent for capturing everything from bored Soviet youth to French lovers has gained the attention of art critics worldwide, but it is his true artistic talent that fuels his popularity. Finding himself ‘in the right place at the right time’ he has recorded the fall of the Soviet Union, the blossoming of the new Russian Federation and the continuing struggle for the establishment of stable nationhood. His acute sense of photojournalistic duty and artful composition has captured mundane moments and turned them into a representation of history, and has made a mockery of Soviet symbolism. His way of viewing the world – completely without filters – has dispelled myths about the Russian people, and has reflected our world to us without a romantic or critical eye.

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