About Alexander Klevan

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Alexander Klevan

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About the artist:
  Alexander Klevan was born in Siberia Russia, October, in 1950 and he learned from 1974-1979 at the Academy for Monumental, and Art Design in Lvov , Ukraina

It seems, that at the end of our cruel, so dramatic and tragic age, there is no room left for romanticism with its striving for happiness and passion for carnival-like metamorphoses. But deep down, even for a pragmatist and realist, this need exists and he, having at least for a little while shaken from his shoulders the load of everyday concerns, is again drawn towards mirages and nostalgic memories, as fragile as card houses. Only when reconstructed through art, this world receives a special reality, no less tangible, than that which is around us.

Alexander Klevan is a romanticist in his art, not because he has chosen this "role", but due to the disposition of his soul, his world view and attitude. The artist sharply senses the movement of real life, its momentary changeability. Clocks, which are frequently present in A. Klevan''s still life, landscape paintings and compositions, measure the time, but there is no way of knowing whether the arms of the clock are going forward to the next day or back to the day before, returning our memory to the past. The houses have unexpectedly become displaced along their axes, ripples have obscured the town''s reflection in water, and on the quay in Jaffa a gray bearded Jew with a hat appears sitting on a chair and it seems, that Tel-Aviv does not yet exist, but only the old stones of Jaffa. Why then is there a modern road sign?...

According to Kant, art was created by the human need for "pure" play, without any practical interest. Shakespeare raised this to a comprehensive formula: the whole world''s a stage and men are the actors, the atmosphere of play, stage, a carnival, where people skilfully hide their faces, is also present in the many works of Alexander Klevan. He likes to paint clowns and jesters, made wiser by life, puppets play people, while people pull their strings, unaware that it may be painful to them. Or lay out cards, looking at the fickle and unstable signs of fate. Sometimes the artist dresses his characters in new clothes, the king changes his crown for a fool''s cap, and the girl from the cafe becomes a real lady... But now the show is over, the actors take off their masks and everything returns to usual - tired eyes, bitterness, hidden in the curve of the lips, a T-shirt instead of a king''s cloak...Only the asymmetry and disproportion, characteristic of acting, are not washed off with the make-up and stay forever. In love with the "Retro-style Bohemia" atmosphere, A. Klevan paints women''s portraits, with the reflection of the epoch of Toulouse-Lautrec and Modigliani, Parisian charm, some kind of understatement, hard to capture. In these portraits triumphs an eternal femininity, beauty, life completeness, but why, unexpectedly and sharply, a glance wet with tears sparkles beneath the lowered brim of a hat?!.. Life is only life, romanticism may adorn it, but is unable to change it.

The feelings of instability of the world and its object environment creates an instability of feelings, which wipes off the border between reality and imagination: reality is as fantastic, as fantasy is real. A. Klevan expresses this mobility, perhaps not so much in his topics, romantic or commonplace, as in colour. Water-colours, as it seems to me, became his favorite painting technique not because he controls it freely and confidently, but because it is adequate to his creative outlook. The specific character of water-colours is such, that is demands from the artist quickness and lightness of performance, purity and clarity of the colour layer and its interaction with the whiteness of paper, masterly control of colour, drawing and form. As a wide range artist, A. Klevan works willingly and successfully with oil paints as well. He knows their characteristics and possibilities, senses it not as a traditional technique, but as a spiritual creature, usually obedient, but sometimes unpredictibly capricious. He sees and hears its vibrating tonality, pitch of the "colour-sound", harmony and dissonance, solo parts of one colour, colour multiplicity of chords, poliphony of arrangement. Probably this is why A. Klevan frequently returns to the theme of music. Musicians: violinists, cellists and conductors are welcome guests among his characters.

With the complexity of the post-modernistic mentality we have somehow forgotten one obvious factor: the social and technological world changes faster than the emotional nature of man. As of one to two hundred years ago, he seeks beauty in art. Not the banal prettiness of type and trivial situations, but above all the beauty of art, colour, forms, composition and all the other components of art. As an artist of modern thinking style, A. Klevan operates widely and freely with graphic metaphors, associations and allegories. Far from simple imitation of reality, he uses flexible and supple expressive means, always adequate for one or other creative task. But in all cases strictly aesthetic qualities are present, moreover, this constant imparts his works with attractiveness for the viewers, collectors and those who appreciate the quality of art.

Alexander Klevan is a professional artist and he know that painting is always art in all parts of the world. Probably this is why he entered the new situation fo modern Israeli art in such an organic way, avoiding the cardinal, frequently painful, break of fixed ideas and individual peculiarity, except that perhaps his creative manner became more free, unrestrained and spontaneous, and at the same time more complex. Keeping his distance from super-fashionable novelties, Klevan continues to work in traditional genres - portrait, landscape - mainly urban, still life, figurative painting, frequently combining these genres in one composition. In the many-voiced noise of modern artistic life it is not easy to maintain fidelity to oneself and to one''s creative outlook, to say one''s work with one''s own voice only, and not a borrowed voice and in one''s own intonation - this is very much for every artist. Alexander Klevan has succeeded in this.

Grigory Ostrovsky
Doctor of History of Fine Art