Alexander Kalugin was born on June 10, 1949 in Estonia. Since 1954 he has lived and worked in Moscow. In 1965-67 he studied in the studio of the then disgraced artist Vladimir Weisberg, and in 1970-71 in the studio of Boris Kozlov. He first began exhibiting in 1972 in the USA, followed by exhibitions in Switzerland, England, France, Holland, Austria, Italy, and in the Soviet Union during these years he exhibited only at apartment or informal exhibitions, in Izmailovsky Park and the Pavilion of Culture at VDNH. The first official solo exhibition in the homeland took place only in 1993 in the gallery “Moscow Fine Art”.
The artist has created an author’s individual mythology, in which the past and present, modernism and archaic, neo-primitivist tendencies and ironic deformation are mixed in an original way.
Fabulous, philosophical, phantasmagoric paintings-parables of Alexander Kalugin somewhat resemble collages. The multilayered nature of his plastic mythologies intrigues with its special power, multi-valued fragmentarity, causing a desire to put together the pieces of the mosaic and get to their secret meaning. The broken levels of Being seem to grow through each other, leaving a place of uncertainty. His characters are phantom and real. The artist travels through the “looking glass” of bizarre fictions, lets the mythologized past into his paintings, blurs the lines between the mundane and the miraculous, which speaks of his neo-romantic orientations. Here, the folklore grotesque of Russian splint pictures, and the ironic phantasmagoria of Hieronymus Bosch, passed through the witchcraft prism of the neo-surrealist “alchemy of images”, and introduced into the contexts of the artist’s purely personal myth-making are involved. Various semantic fragments, levels, plans, sections of his art, flickering, appear through each other, overlap, interpenetrate, generate new contexts.
In 1996 and 1998, at universities and colleges in the USA, Kalugin lectured on art and taught students the technique of etching, and also worked on his project to create artistic maps of cities.
Kalugin’s graphic work, made in the etching technique “Flight to the Monastery”, is published on the cover of two American editions of Mikhail Bulgakov’s novel “The Master and Margarita”. Several of Kalugin’s works became illustrations for the book by American journalist Nick Danilov, who worked in Moscow in 1985, and subsequently published the book “Two Lives — One Russia”. More than twenty of Kalugin’s works are in the American Museum of Modern Art “Zimmerli”, New Jersey.
The largest collection of early works by Alexander Kalugin is in the Museum of Grinnell College of Iowa, USA. Kalugin’s works are also in the largest private collections of Russian and foreign art of the XX century by George Kostaki, Leonid Talochkin, Evgeny Nutovich, as well as in many public and private collections in the USA and Europe. In 1998, at the International Festival of Contemporary Art, held in Florida in the USA, Kalugin received the First and Second prizes in the competition for the best graphics and painting.
Since 1990, Kalugin has been collaborating with the Swiss graphic gallery “Contrast”, and is also a member of the International Center for Fantastic Art at Chateau Gruyere in Switzerland.
Since 2002, Alexander Kalugin has been working in cinema. He created a series of graphic works for the television film of the same name based on Boris Akunin’s novel “Azazel” and the documentary film directed by Vladimir Khotinenko “Pilgrimage to the Eternal City”.
Alexander Kalugin passed away on April 18, 2023 on Good Friday. Pray for his soul.