If you have visited or seen pictures of an Eastern Orthodox church, you probably know the “iconostasis” – that gilded wall full of icons and paintings of Christ and the saints.
Influenced by the colour and organisation of this important feature of Eastern European religious art, Serbian artist Aleksandar Todorovic (born 1982) has produced a series of paintings that exhibits and attacks various political and economic ideologies of our time. His bold and energetic paintings address trends both national and global. They depict with great precision the hells we end up creating on earth when we try to realise our utopian fantasies.
The series, Aleksandar explains, is an analysis of the evil that lurks beneath the systems of governance that we, as a human race, have experienced in recent history. Every ideology – be it Communism or Nazism or Capitalism – projects itself as the one and only true creed. It has its own prophets, messiahs, apostles and followers. These pseudo-religions thrive on “aggression, foreign wars, limitations of basic human rights and privacy, destruction of all morals and values.” It is the average man that continues to be manipulated by the very systems he fights to protect and serve.
Aleksandar’s artworks – which, for him, are “just simple mirrors” – are informed by a passionately ethical and spiritual vision. Evil, the artist repeatedly insists, is a outcome of a misguided will – not an external, independent force. He says: “Only if a man is aware of the fact that he has evil within himself, buried in his subconscious, can he fight it, control it, transform it into something good.”
Regarding his influences, Aleksandar comments: “That’s a hard one. For this project, I have adopted the stylistic elements of Eastern Orthodox art in general and I try not to use individual artists as reference points – though many of my works are complex and similar to those of Frida Kahlo or Hieronymus Bosch. I haven’t really emulated them. Anyhow, my favorite artists are – I mean some of them, and the choice is rather eclectic – Leonardo da Vinci, Grünewald, Van Gogh, Monet, Klimt, Roy Lichtenstein, Joe Coleman, Ron English. Filmmakers like the Coen Brothers, Wes Anderson, David Fincher, Coppola, Scorcese, Kubrick. Writers like Orwell, Huxley, Arthur C. Clarke, Isaac Asimov, Dostoevsky. And many, many other creative people and artists.”
Aleksandar’s iconostases are as eclectic as his list of favourite artists – easily coursing from German philosophers to American superheroes.
More on the artist’s website (umetnik.rs), Behance portfolio (www.behance.net/aleksa982), Saatchi Art profile (www.saatchiart.com/account/profile/176870) and Facebook page (www.facebook.com/aleksandar.todorovic.3726).
Images used with permission.