Alex Liros: statement on the work

The work presented here is a selection from a show, Kuban: the flood plain, shown at Gallery 1313 in the spring of 2000. What I have done is to focus on my past, on the past out of reach of my memory, but in the memory of my late father, on his parents who died, remarkably, in 1915, orphaning him. There is very little known about them, no photographs, no stories, except for a document with their names and the place and date where they died. The place is the Kuban, a low rich plain through which the Kuban river flows northwest from the Caucasus into the Black Sea.

I found a Russian book on the provincial capital of the Kuban, in tsarist times called Ekaterinodar (literally means gift of [Empress] Catherine, to the Cossacks in 1793 who were won over to the imperial cause and beame pioneers/border patrol), and found a reference to a major flood in May/June 1915, which probably was the one that flooded the village where my grandparents lived and subsequently died of typhoid fever. The reproductions of old photographs in this book became a kind of surrogate memory, and many of the work in the show are based on them. The other works are an imaginary journey of the havoc of the flood, death and release.

The works are on paper done in mixed media, watercolour, ink and bits of paper and/or acetate collage.

The work is dedicated to my grandparents, Georg Akliros and Maria Kirjanko.

Alex Liros: something about the artist

My research skills can be partly attributed to the fact that I have a history B.A. from Concordia University, Montreal, and a library science degree from the University of Toronto. My drawing skills come from several years of good work under Pat Durr at the Ottawa School of Art and from anatomy classes at the University of Ottawa Faculty of Medicine.

I have been drawing and painting (and briefly worked with wood) for over 25 years, with the usual bumps and turns on the way. One important turning point took place in the early 1990's when I turned 50 and turned my back on a lot of things, and looked at myself, and artist living and working in a working-class environment. So I started working in a 'grittier' manner, using tape and various collage methods, and greying down my palette (I have since discovered watercolours and brightened my palette). Looking at myself eventually turned into looking into my family past, which included recording my mother's stories, small collage/drawings of my dad based on old family photographs, and now this work on my grandparents. My next project jumps 30 years into a strange place and time, with no photos or documentation, but some first-hand accounts from my mother and older brothers.

The artist can be contacted at liros@freenet.toronto.on.ca

Resume available on request.

Go To Works By Alex Liros: 'Kuban: the flood plain'