Alexey Kondakov Defies Art-Historical Boundaries – Try Not to Laugh

Harpists on the subway? Buxom damsels on late night buses? Nothing is as it seems in Alexey Kondakov‘s surreal digital collages: this Ukrainian artist photoshops striking – and often undressed – characters from classical art into pedestrian modern backdrops. Alexey Kondakov per Napoli, created during a journey to Naples for exhibition late last year, is the most recent addition to his wildly popular oeuvre of digital collages, more of which can be found on his Instagram account.

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His cast of predominantly Romantic characters juxtapose neatly with the routine scenes of cafes, streets and contemporary transport. The result is a comical and thought-provoking series in which the new and the old collide – something we’re fond of, here at The Plus.

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The characters look as if they belong in these unconventional situations, leading us to reflect on the nature of modern life, and demanding a re-reading of contemporary spaces and their historical past. But how easy is it to put these pieces together?

The Plus: How do you choose the combinations of artwork and setting to use in your compositions?
Alexey Kondakov: I surf different art blogs for inspiration. Artists from this period depicted stories from mythology, and characters were usually naked, so when placed in a modern setting it looks different. I try to imagine a situation in which they can be placed.

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TP: Can you tell us about the process of making your images?
AK: Sometimes I spend a day surfing online for paintings; then I do some research for the best location. I spend most of the time finding locations; sometimes I have to go across the whole city for one shot. I take the photos on my mobile phone. I take between 1 and 3 hours to choose the best photo and then place characters within it.

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TP: Are you a fan of classical art?
AK: I’m a fan of all art! I prefer to not choose a favourite. One day I am inspired by ancient art, the next day I am in love with the work of modern artists or designers. My love of art has no borders.

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TP: What is it about the contrast between classical art and modern life that you enjoy so much?
AK: Contrast helps us to feel. It helps my audience to see the situation and feel that it’s familiar to them – but there is something special in using unusual characters.

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TP: So what do you focus on to draw your audience in?
AK: I was trained as a graphic designer, and when you have to make a poster you need to consider that the viewer will only look at your work for two or three seconds.

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TP: Is it important for art to be funny?
AK: A sense of humor is important everywhere, in every day-to-day situation. I think there is always a place for clever jokes and for satire in art.

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TP: Would you take your work to the streets of other cities?
AK: Of course! In 2016 I had my first chance to take the project outside of Kiev and Ukraine, and I was worried about it. It’s important to show the “soul” of the city, not just to juxtapose figures from paintings and shots from the streets. But I don’t know what city will be next.

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