Anton S. Kandinsky

<< go to artists list

Kandinsky lived and worked in New York since 2000. He was well known for his GEMISM movement (paintings filled with gem stones), and his grenade paintings. The artist died in his studio in Manhattan in 2014. He was 53 years old.

Is there any artistic tactic more difficultthan visual humor? The artist who undertakes to be funny with images faces a dual challenge: first, to make the pictures truly amusing; second, to keep the humor from cloying. And a painter who jokes—as opposed to a live performer or even a comic-strip illustrator—must work this trick exclusively in the eye, so to speak, without the aid of extensive dialogue, plot or physical comedy. Little wonder that the form is exceedingly rare. 

Thus it is no contradiction to say that the former-USSR artist Anton Kandinsky treats every subject as joke, and every joke as a fundamentally serious matter. Born in Crimea, Ukraine, in 1960, he studied at the Simferopol Art College and the Ukrainian Academy of Arts, from which he obtained his MFA in 1986. His rigorous training in old-style academic naturalism enables the artist to create convincing figures and compelling likenesses at will, a technique central to his deadpan approach. 

Kandinsky’s other self-generated movement, Gemism, involves ornamenting compositions, both representational and abstract, with lustrously rendered jewels. Sometimes the depicted gems serve as highlights, snagging the viewer’s gaze and directing it to neglected pictorial areas (the forgotten corners of portraits, the borders of monochromes); sometimes the stones are more-or-less arbitrary embellishments, scattered lavishly among the work’s other forms (guns, grenades, helmets, flak vests) like symbols of artistic largesse. But occasionally the baubles are, disconcertingly, massed or patterned into basic structural elements: the stripes of a flag or the framing device for the “reflection” of Picasso’s Guernica.

The treatment of gems, in their esthetic purity, as visual counterbalances to the low, mad instincts that prompt endless mayhem. Every Kandinsky jewel is a gleaming joke on human nature—lampooning its grossness while merrily inspiring its self-transformation.

About Me

Name: Anton S. Kandinsky

Nationality: New York