Another spot on the artistic map of Slovenia is the town of Portorož, where the team of online art
platform G.ART Gallery met the artist Alexander Kruchan in his studio.
Alexander was born in Ussuriisk in the Russian Far East, but has been living in the south since
early childhood where he received his professional education. The seaside town of Yeisk was the
place where the young artist started working in a very narrow creative niche – as a master of
church murals. It was a time when the country was rebuilding the institution of the Orthodox
Church, which had been repressed in the Soviet Union. There were not enough churches, so
sometimes completely unexpected buildings were handed over to the church – for example,
Alexander recalls, this happened to an old cinema. He and a colleague painted the interior with
canonical scenes, and he was noticed and later painted other churches.
Alexander Kruchan has a special relationship to orthodox painting: murals and icons. He
believes that the duty of an artist- Christian is to creatively rethink the canons of the Church and
to present his version of sacred history. And he refers to the icon as “a device, which is switched
on for direct communication with God after certain rituals are performed: putting a candle,
crossing yourself…”. Alexander also has many secular interior paintings – with natural motifs,
plots, referring to the Antiquity.
paintings by Alexander Kruchan
He works in different techniques and genres: he creates portraits, landscapes and still lifes,
makes graphic art (he has an excellent eye for pencil drawing), is engaged in book illustration.
He is relaxed about the commercialisation of his work, does not count zeros on price lists and
ironically admits to not having the talent to promote himself in the art market. In the past,
Alexander happened to paint for the soul in the kitchen and to earn money doing something else,
and that experience has definitely tempered any artist.
What should we call Alexander Kruchan`s style of painting? It is not an easy question for him to
answer. Referring to art critics who call his style realism, he chuckles – after all, no one knows
exactly what reality is. Talking about how exactly a painting comes into being, Alexander recalls
that he once saw an old man untie a boat rope. It was a good snapshot, but something was
missing for the painting. The artist worked with a sitter, looking for an original angle, colouring –
and eventually a picture appeared with an extremely simple subject, fitting into four words: “a
man, a boat, a rope, water”. This underlined succinctness of pictorial means, as if in
Hemingway`s stories, gave birth to a real magic of eternal movement.
painting by Alexander Kruchan
The lovely Slovenian town of Portorož, where Alexander now lives, is of course present in his
paintings – but often not in its sunny, cheerful spa-like appearance, but as if seen through a
bluish, slightly smoky glass: eternal, timeless. The sea often appears in landscape works, and the
hectic coastal world throws up ideas – so once nails scattered at a boat repair site became heroes
in paintings and drawings, turned into art objects.
The subject, Alexander says, seems to appear out of nowhere, it catches on and makes you think
of new subjects. But you don`t have to exploit it endlessly. As a young artist you were always
coming up with ideas for paintings, but this fertility had a downside – indiscriminateness. Today,
every painting takes a long time to conceive and come into being. Alexander compares the
artist`s work to a frog floundering in a jug of milk and knocking down a lump of butter.
Suddenly, after a period of confusion, something to stand on appears underfoot, the world finds
its bearings, there is freedom of manoeuvre, but it is not easy to reach this state of maturity.
When asked how Alexander lives and works in Slovenia, in Portorož, he answered frankly: “It`s
good here!” After meeting him and becoming acquainted with his surroundings, each of his new
works is doubly attractive. G.ART Gallery will be following Alexander Kruchan`s “Slovenian
cycle” with interest.