Exhibition: ‘Alexey Titarenko: Saint Petersburg in Four Movements’ at Nailya Alexander Gallery, New York

Exhibition dates: 11th February – 24th April 2010


Alexey Titarenko. '#1 Untitled (Boy)' 1993


Alexey Titarenko
#1 Untitled (Boy)
Gelatin silver print



Many thankx to the Nailya Alexander Gallery for allowing me to reproduce the images in the posting. Please click on the photographs for a larger version of the image.

Dr Marcus Bunyan


Alexey Titarenko. '#3 Untitled (Crowd 1)' 1992


Alexey Titarenko
#3 Untitled (Crowd 1)
Gelatin silver print


Alexey Titarenko. '#7 Untitled (Three Women Selling Cigarettes)' 1992


Alexey Titarenko
#7 Untitled (Three Women Selling Cigarettes)
Gelatin silver print


Alexey Titarenko. '#11 Untitled (Begging Woman)' 1999


Alexey Titarenko
#11 Untitled (Begging Woman)
Gelatin silver print



Nailya Alexander Gallery is pleased to announce Alexey Titarenko: Saint Petersburg in Four Movements opening on February 11th, in her new space at the Fuller Building, 41 E 57th Street, Suite 704. The reception for the artist will be from 6-8pm. Gallery hours are Tuesday through Saturday, 10am-6pm and by appointment.

This will be Alexey Titarenko’s first major exhibition in New York that features his entire St. Petersburg series (1991-2009). The four underlying sequences, or movements – to borrow a term from the vocabulary of music, which features prominently in the artist’s mind, are The City of Shadows, The Anonymous, The Light of Saint Petersburg and Unfinished time. Like music, the expression of time is a presence in Titarenko’s art, associated with literature and in particular, the works of Marcel Proust.

This majestic and history-laden city, where Titarenko was born in 1962, is the central subject of his photography, or to be more accurate it is the soul of the city and therefore that of Russia. As the artist himself explains:

“It would be en error to consider my photographs within the context of the values now fashionable in the arts in general and photography in particular. To align them with such and such a trend, without taking into account that their very purpose in existing is defined by the past. Even the most factual of them are not reportage, but a novel. The principal motivation for their creation is, in fact, always the same: Russia’s history throughout the 20th century, which is an unending series of tragedies of ever more baffling dimensions, whether you consider the wars, the famines or the so-called times of peace. The history of Russia … but in the form of rather contemporary images, made in a single location, a single city – St. Petersburg. Rather than the city (which is mostly only vaguely visible), these images represent emotion – the range of emotions forming the deep inner character of the people who lived in this country and endured all these disasters, people who were usually only represented from outside. And it is therefore these emotions which, in themselves, are quite general and have remained unchanged in the course of the century, like the emotions aroused by the music of Shostakovich, for example, or by the novels of Solzhenitsyn, which are the true subject of my photographs, and my goal would be to convey them to the viewer, to make him or her feel them … understand, to feel compassion and love.”

Titarenko was able to develop a form of expression reminiscent of Dostoyevsky’s stories, inspired by the moods and rhythms of the music of Shostakovich. Often, the city, veiled in winter’s shadows or bright with summer’s dazzle, is inhabited by nearly transparent phantoms. They dwell in its streets, cross its courtyards: crowds on the move, spreading over a vast square like a wave, their individual identities blurred and indistinct. Nevertheless, sometimes a few isolated, improbable figures emerge from the crowd. This photographic technique, involving relatively slow shutter speeds, confirms a taste for randomness and makes each image a unique adventure, a potential source of surprise. The approach also bespeaks Titarenko’s long-standing interest in 19th-century landscape photographers, especially those who operated in cities. In addition to this style of representation, which eschews any temptation to be objective and is finally quite impressionistic, the darkroom technique Titarenko uses transforms the black-and-white print into a composition endowed with subtle, suggestive hues and ever-differing nuances of gray. Titarenko never reproduces exactly the same rendering of light and shadow from one print to the next.

Press release from the Nailya Alexander Gallery website [Online] Cited 06/04/2010 no longer available online


Alexey Titarenko. '#12 Untitled (Crowd 2)' 1993


Alexey Titarenko
#12 Untitled (Crowd 2)
Gelatin silver print


Alexey Titarenko. '#15 Untitled (Asking for a Smoke)' 1995


Alexey Titarenko
#15 Untitled (Asking for a Smoke)
Gelatin silver print


Alexey Titarenko. '#21 Untitled (Woman on the Corner)' 1995


Alexey Titarenko
#21 Untitled (Woman on the Corner)
Partially toned gelatin silver print


Alexey Titarenko. 'Untitled (Windows)' (Attic) 1993


Alexey Titarenko
Untitled (Windows)(Attic)
Partially toned gelatin silver print



Nailya Alexander Gallery
41 E 57th Street, Suite 704
New York, NY 10022

Gallery hours are Tuesday through Friday, 10am – 6pm and by appointment.

Nailya Alexander Gallery website


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Dr Marcus Bunyan

Dr Marcus Bunyan is an Australian artist and writer. His art work explores the boundaries of identity and place. He writes Art Blart, a photographic archive and form of cultural memory, which posts mainly photography exhibitions from around the world. He holds a Dr of Philosophy from RMIT University, Melbourne, a Master of Arts (Fine Art Photography) from RMIT University, and a Master of Art Curatorship from the University of Melbourne.

Marcus Bunyan black and white archive: ‘Mask’ 1994

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