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Alexander Rodchenko: Modern Photography, Photomontage and Film

Presentation House Gallery, North Vancouver
Nov 3, 2001 - Dec 16, 2001

Alexander Rodchenko, Pioneer Girl, (1930),
modern gelatin silver photograph

From early paintings during the October Revolution of 1917 to his adoption of the camera as a primary artistic tool in 1923 and through his journal work to 1941, Alexander Rodchenko (1891-1956) was one of Europe's most innovative and revolutionary artists. Rodchenko turned to the camera as a way to collect sufficient material for his photomontages. Impressed by the German Dadaists and a social radical at heart, he revolutionized concepts of artistic perspective through the lens. By using abstraction as a primary means to maximize the graphic impact of visual experience, Rodchenko established the influential style of Constructivism which sought intellectual rigour rather than feelings and soul. His inventive imagery paralleled the utopian society of the 1920s and protested what he saw as the growing communist oppression of the avant-garde in Russia.

Like the Cubists, Rodchenko wanted to portray everyday objects and scenes with multiple points of view and dramatic cropping in order to create a whole visual sense from the parts. Only through this technique, he claimed, could a complete impression of things be achieved. The element of line, whether the lines of stairs or overhead wires, dominated his work. Playing on negative and positive pictorial structures, he converted the confusion of the urban scenes around him to dazzling constructivist designs.

The exhibition also includes portraits by Rodchenko of contemporaries like the Cubist-Futurist painter Liubov Popova and poet Vladimir Mayakovsky. collection: Howard Schickler

© Mia Johnson