Anton (Anatole) P. Solomoukha (Ukrainian: Антон Соломуха November 2, 1945 – 21 October 2015) was a Ukrainian-born French artist and photographer, and a foreign member of the Ukrainian Academy of Arts. From 1980 he specialized in narrative figuration. After 2000 he developed photo projects and is known as the inventor of a new form of expression in contemporary photography: “Photo painting”. In it he associates the photographic image with pictorial research in tableaux frequently requiring a multitude of models.
Solomoukha was born in Kiev, Ukraine (then part of the USSR). His family was a part of the Soviet intelligentsia. His father, Pavel Davidovich Solomoukha, was a veteran of the Second World War. In 1943 following the liberation of Ukraine he was given the job of recruiting and organizing the training of teachers in a department under the Secretariat of N.S. Khrushchev, who later became the First Secretary of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union. His mother, Galina von Krigin, was a teacher.
After completing his secondary education and doing his military service, Anton entered Faculty for the Restoration of Icons in The Kiev School of Fine Art. It was here that he familiarized himself with philosophy and religion. In 1971 Anton Solomukha was admitted to the studio workshop of the academician T. Yablonska and in 1973 he obtained a diploma as a ‘Monumentalist’ painter.
In 1971 his daughter Kristina Solomoukha was born.
Between 1975 and 1978 his dissident creative expression attracted the attention of the political censors and he was summoned to appear before the KGB on several occasions.
In 1978 he finally succeeded in immigrating to France. He has lived and worked in Paris ever since.
Between 1978 and 1980, he began a period of experimentation of various techniques and types of aesthetic formulas. A voyage to the United States in 1978—1980 proved to be a decisive moment in his artistic career. In 1980 he exhibited in New York City, Boston, Cleveland, Washington and Philadelphia. In 1981, 1982, 1983 he was invited by the violinist Gidon Kremer, to be the stage designer in the Festival of chamber music in Lockenhaus, Austria (Lockenhauskamermusikfest). The influence of classical music, and his contact with renowned musicians left its mark in the work he did during this period. In 1985, the project “the Great Myths” drew the attention of Cologne gallery owner Thomas Krings-Ernsta and he exhibited there regularly until 1989. In 1988, two paintings were acquired by Cologn’s Ludwig Museum for its “French Collection”.
Until 2002, important projects in the painting of Solomoukha, like “Boxers”, “Mechanical Toys”, “the Myths and the Limits” and “Jazz” were characterized by the formal search for ways of expression through the opposition of different structures of thought and by his obsession for paradox. His ideological, aesthetic and ethical positions were formed under the influence of the French art critic Bernard Lamarche-Vadel and Michel Enrici.
The series of paintings "Allegory" 1979-2002 was much more figurative and picturesque. Citation of works of Baroque, search for the heroes and anti-heroes, based on the major composite structures, were undergoing constant change, often under the influence of the photographic image.
In the search for new means of expression, a new visual language, the painter Solomoukha is attracted more and more by photography.
In search of new expressive means, a new visual language Solomoukha-painter more often use photograph. In 1990, he got acquainted with Robert Doisneau. In 1995, for a long time Solomukha is working on drawing with Henri Cartier-Bresson. Both acquentances strongly influenced Anton's decision to devote himself to photography which since 2002 has become his principal sphere of creativity.
The first series; “The girl with the cup-and-ball”, “The Sex of Angels”, “I Fuck Your TV” are characterized by the choice of a closed space and a dark background. He uses mirrors, as ‘a complementary character’ for the construction of a subject, ironic or poetic, inspired by historical myths and the biblical subjects. His obsession with these projects has evolved into a rejection of temporal social topics. His relationship with painting appears more and more and was the principal theme of a series of photo compositions in the monumental style: “Little Red Riding Hood visits the Louvre”. Although these big square “panoramic” compositions are technically photographs, in reality they are projected and constructed as if they were painted pictures. “Photo-painting” has a role to play in the creation of a new contemporary art form.
‘The photographic ‘paintings’ of this series are theatrical. The backgrounds are dark. The foregrounds are filled by actors: characters from the streets of Paris interposed with naked models, animals and elements of still life. An infinite number of small objects are strewn on the ground and cover the walls. The theatrical tableaux style of this collection enabled the artist to break with the traditional photographic image and create a paradoxical metaphysical space. In them, each character, as in an opera, plays a part while remaining an independent element, related to the other characters only if the artist wills it! In 2009 Anton Solomoukha continues to refer to classical art in his project “Little Red Riding Hood visits Tchernobyl”. His preference for “ironic allegory” allows him to create works in a form reminiscent of paintings in the Louvre, morbid scenes of the Tchernobyl catastrophe.
- Musée des Beaux-Arts de Mons (Belgique)
- Peintures Françaises du Musée Ludwig (Allemagne)
- Leopold Hoesch Museum (Allemagne)
- Musée d’Art moderne (Sarajevo, Bosnie)
- Musée Cosmo Hôtel (Hong-Kong, China)
- New York Academy of Art (NYC, USA)
- Fondation Dosne -Thiers (France)
- Rally Museum (Israël)
- Musée Norton Dodge (Maryland USA)
- NCCA National Center for Contemporary Arts, (Moscow, Russia)
- UIMA Ukrainian Institute of Modern Art (Chicago, USA)
- Musée d' Art Modern d’Ukraine (Kiev, Ulraine)
- "Anton Solomoukha – Hommage à un ami". charlelie-officiel.com (in French).