Alexander Lobanov: The Reception of the Political in Soviet Outsider Art
The analysis of the oeuvre of the outsider artist Alexander Lobanov (1924–2003) reveals the mechanisms of influence of Soviet visual propaganda. This article examines the total influence of ideology and visual narratives on an artist even when they seem to have been completely excluded from artistic life (in Lobanov’s case, due to his deaf mutism). The author refers to Irving Goffman’s self-presentation theory, the works on political power and its influence by Boris Groys, and the works of psychologists on the peculiarities of compensatory activity in the deaf and mute. The work is relevant as it reflects the importance of outsider artists as part of the art process. The author mostly refers to works by Lobanov in non-Russian and Russian private and institutional collections, as well visual propaganda from the Soviet period. Works by Lobanov and other Soviet outsider artists have not been studied from the perspective chosen by the article’s author. The artist’s oeuvre is examined by Élisabeth Anstett from the discourse point of view, connected with visual images from Soviet propaganda. The author of the article singles out the peculiarities of the appropriation by the outsider artist of the ideological visual narrative, the circle of borrowed images (militarism, hero, Stalin – “the father of nations”), and certain approaches (recurrence, ornamentality, and the presence of text). As a result of an artistic and formalist analysis, the author reveals specific borrowings of approaches and stylistics from the Soviet art (poster, illustration, and easel painting) of the 1930s to the mid‑1950s. Additionally, an important aspect of the study is that the author reveals the peculiar intellectualisation of compensatory mechanisms in the construction of social representation addressing the dominant images of visual Soviet propaganda. The interdisciplinary approach of the research, with certain exceptions, could be used to analyse the creative work of other Soviet outsider artists.
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