Ugly Face of Feminism? God, no.

No, it is a story about censorship, stupidity and cross-cultural differences.
Non-Russians, when shown this sculpture, somehow come to the conclusion that the artist is anti-feminist. Most Russians immediately come to the right answer. I am giving it to you in a second.

Alexander Appolonov is a recognised sculptor of the monumental persuasion. Most of his work is big. Monuments to czars, war heroes and the like. Not-so-subtle propaganda of the new Russian might and past Russian glory.

But in his free time, he’s smelting out romantic, lyric, ironic or, sometimes, sarcastic figurines.

The lady with a swine’s head was titled “The government bureaucrat”, obviously implying the corrupt nature of many of their kind. It was removed from the exhibition, because three different senior ladies from the Russian government recognised themselves and got offended.

Isn’t it ironic that they didn’t have the brains to keep it to themselves?

In today’s Russia, you can say anything you want. You can say things which would get you fined or imprisoned in the West (for harassment or a breach of a dozen political correctness laws), and killed in the East. The important thing is not to say it out very loud, whatever hate or love message you’ve prepared. Do not exhibit your thoughts! Just think them. Dream them. Which brings me to one of my favourite figurines by Apollonov, The Dreamer.

Or, his Venus

It reminds me of the Venus from the Old Stone Age:

The Venus of Willendorf

And of Lucien Freud:

The Stone Age Venus was a token of fertility. Freud’s lady was a study of alienated body (she’s holding her own body as if it were not her own). Apollonov’s Venus is just a real, fertile, relaxed woman perfectly OK with her body. It is very much her own.

And below is a figurine I do not like. Well, it is a nice piece of art, just representing ideology I don’t agree with.

The Woman with Pillows is the kind of lady any man would want to marry, because she’s not only carrying these soft, cushy, cosy, fit-anything and anyone pillows, she’s just as soft, cosy, kind and supportive. She’s a pillow herself. Well, I don’t think many women in the West would want to be seen as a pillow for their partner. But I am sure Apollonov can sell it in, say, Dubai. Really. Had I owned a gallery there, this girl would be carrying the tag of $15K (and not for long, I am sure).

You see, one and the same sculptor can produce art catering to the needs of the State propaganda, opposition forces, feminists and anti-feminists. I don’t think it is ideological prostitution,  it is just a mess in the head of a male talent.


  1. A nude in a Dubai gallery? You must be kidding! No matter how many cushions she is balancing on her head. Great sculptor and a great post. I somehow missed it when it first appeared 🙂

  2. I really like the analogies, this Dreamer is very interesting, would be great to see it. So is the Pillow lady actually. And it’s amazing how artists can use that cold and heavy material to create weightless or cozy, warm and soft sculptures. As for ideology – hard to say really whether I agree with this or not (in general, not for myself) but for sure most western women would not like it indeed. Though believe not everyone understands that not being a pillow does not automatically mean being something else and something more interesting)

  3. Few people can create a bronze sculpture without a patron but part of the whole being an artist persona is to express something unique and this is sometimes compromised when work is being made to please the dictates of another. It is wonderful to see the work of a talented artist. Many of these follow their own direction and as a result miss out on commercial recognition. One of my favourite contempory Amsterdam artists is Kees Pe. His ability to produce quality work using a variety of medium makes him difficult to place in a category and as a result makes him less commerically marketable.

    1. You know, I really like the guy. I really, really do like him. I will drop this link to a gallery owner in Belgium, who is preparing an exbibition on ballet dancers. I think he could talk to the guy and they can do something together. THANK YOU!

  4. What an amazing sculptor. Thank you for this introduction and amusing piece. So many artists complain about their work not being understood or recognised. Mostly this is because they just aren’t that good. I am delighted that he has the genius talent and the attention his work deserves.

  5. This defenitely made my day. It is interesting how different the fewing on things across the world actually are.
    Do you know if the works of Alexander Appolonov will be in Germany or Europe one day?

It would be grand to hear from you now!

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