It is known that Oleg Mitasov was born in 1953, lived in the city centre of Kharkov, and died in late 1999 from tuberculosis in one of the psychiatric hospitals in the same city.
According to the legend, he got cranky when he left his thesis on the tram on the way to the Higher Attestation Commission and this was the reason why he didn’t get his PhD. The numerous references to the word VAK (Cyrillic based acronym for Higher Attestation Commission) in his inscriptions prove this fact.
He became famous in the mid-80s when he covered numerous fences, buildings, porches and even his own apartment with these weird inscriptions:
DO.NOT.LOSE.FAITH.IN.PEOPLE.TO EVERYONE.TO EVERYTHING.ALIVE.AND.LIFELESS
LENIN.GAVE.AN INJECTION.IN THE HEAD.WHERE.ON THE EARTH
Some of this phrases can still be seen on some buildings in Kharkov. All pieces from his flat have now been destroyed. Now there’s just an office in the way.His work started appear on the streets and then someone saw him doing it. He was drawing everywhere, even now we can find some pieces on Kharkov’s walls. He was studying economics whole his life and was a director of a store before illness and never represented himself as an artist.He’s started obsessively drawing in the mid 80s after he’s got cranky and was doing it till the end of his life.
Alexander Lobanov was born on August 13th 1924 in Mologa, Russia. He came from a family of a simple a ferrymen. When he was six he went through a severe case of meningitis, which left him a deaf mute. Even as a child he was always fond of making different kinds of small handcrafts.
One of Alexander’s brightest memories from that time was of the soldiers quartered in the house where he lived. As a joke they promised to present him with a rifle. That promise gave birth to a dream unfulfilled and perhaps an offence was taken as well. Later it grew into the sickness and at the same time into one of the main themes of his work. That was the fantastic Mosin’s double-barrel, the visually modified 1891 rifle. This was the weapon that nobody would dare to take from him.
Around this time Alexander’s parents addressed a doctor regarding their son’s mental condition. This experience was something that stayed with Lobanov and influenced him. One of his early works shows a scene where a lady brings a little boy to a doctor and the boy defending himself shoots the doctor with a pistol. This however become a long running theme with his work where guns were ever present.
Alexander’s parents tried to send the boy to Zagorsk Boarding School, but it was unsuccessful resulting in his education being incomplete. At the age of 23 Lobanov was put in the mental hospital. Later in 1953 he was transferred to the Yaroslavl Regional Mental Hospital in the village of Afonino. It was there that he spent the rest of his life. This of course was a challenge for the unstable mind of the artist. For the first few years he was very aggressive uttering the screams of violent protest. But later he was put under the care of the psychiatrist Vladimir Gavrilov who believed in the idea of art-therapy. Lobanov started to draw on any surfaces available. But mostly it was the backsides of political posters calling people to fight back the schemings of aggressive imperialistic invaders in Vietnam, Palestine or Cuba.
At the end of the 1950s Lobanov made friends with a man named Gennadiy who drove the hospital’s truck. Together they created their own language which was absolutely undistinguishable to anyone else. When Gennadiy had a chance he invited the artist to his place. He was a devoted hunter and often shared the stories of his passion. As a result the theme of hunting became one of the core subjects of Alexander’s work. The artist showed and presented his first works to his friend who decorated the entire cabin of his truck with the portraits of communist chiefs. Alexander drew plenty of those too.
Up until the seventies Alexander mentioned himself only as the third person. But further on in time he starts to identify himself not as an object, but as a subject. He begins to sign his paintings. At first he put only his initials and progressed into signing his full name. The pronoun “I” slowly took place in his scarce vocabulary. For him the phrase “I draw” became the highest esteem and justification of his existence. Soon another passion came into the life of the artist which was photography. He acted as a decorator, director and performer for his own formal portraits. He crafted the ornamented frames and decorations, he made fake guns, and asked somebody to shoot him in his own photo-studio.
Alexander Petrovitch Lobanov died in April 2003. He left behind about three hundred drawings, over five hundred photo-portraits and dozens of handmade notebooks.
Lobanov’s rifle has become the symbol of strength and independence. These are all of those things that he was deprived of. The rifle represents a kind of religious totem. The artist clenches it with confidence and stands out as a holy man bearing the mission of protection.
>>>> NEW YORK TIMES.
Muse for Dali, actor for Jarman, dancer at Les Folies Bergère , filmed by Warhol and outsider interior decorator the hero and legend Drako Oho Zarhazar is now appearing again in Toby Aimes new documentary. Drako suffers from anterograde amnesia which results in him not being able to create new memories so he is constantly living in the past. Besides from his impressive experiences he has been in two comas, had two nervous breakdowns and made two suicide attempts. He now has almost no short term memory and has filled his flat with thousands of pieces of paper to remind him of who he is and what is happening in his life. The documentary premiered recently at the Sheffield Documentary festival where more information can be found here
Kaptenmorgan’s Instagram always proves itself to be one of my favourite and least expected tattoo talents when trawling through my phone. Based in Sweden, Magnus Larsson paints flash inspired pieces. The ‘folk art’ style in the tattoo world is pretty popular at the moment but tapping into this naive aesthetic can often come across as quite contrived. In comparison to the heavy thick lined style which is desirable in this genre, Larsson’s paintings create whole new scenarios and images in what seems like a far more honest and original style. Follow him here!
The Pitt Rivers is a museum that showcases a truly incredible selection of anthropological and archaeological objects collected over the last 125 years by the University of Oxford.
Gaining access to the museum is a surreal experience. Situated behind Oxford’s Natural History Museum, the only way to enter the Pitt River’s is to navigate through taxidermied animals and prehistoric skeletons. Located at the back of the building is an understated doorway which leads to this cavern of miscellaneous human relics.
Walking through taxideremied animals and skeletons of dinosaurs you are meeted by where at the back of the building there is an understated door way.
Once in the new museum you are met with three floors of iron verandas and countless Victorian glass boxes filled with artifacts from all over the world. Rather than being exhibited by age or geographical origin, the objects are grouped together by function.
The categories are organised into areas in their vaguest terms about marriage, death, decoration, toys, weapons, religion, magic, music, body art, clothing, food, travel, survival and so on. One of the most popular collections of artifacts is the ‘Treatment of the Dead Enemies’ which hosts a variety of shrunken heads.
The shrunken heads, or tsantsas , in the display on the ‘Treatment of Dead Enemies’ case at the Pitt Rivers Museum are from the Upper Amazon region of South America between Peru and Ecuador. They were made by the Shuar, Achuar, Huambisa, and Aguaruna peoples; distinct tribes with similar cultures. These peoples live in densely forested jungle; the women grow manioc, maize, beans, squash, and tobacco, and the men hunt and fish.
Traditionally, men from these tribes were encouraged to take enemy heads to prove their courage and manhood, and to avenge the death of a relative. While feuding might occur even between villages with fairly close kinship ties, heads were not taken in such situations. Where a raid took place on a closely related group, the heads of sloths or monkeys would be substituted for human heads. The Museum’s display includes the shrunken heads of sloths and red howler monkeys.
Making a shrunken head was done by removing the skin from the skull. The skull and brain were thrown away. The skin was boiled briefly and then dried with hot pebbles and sand. The features were preserved by shaping the skin with hot pebbles as the skin dried. The eyes and mouth were closed with cotton string, and the face blackened with vegetable dye. The head was then strung on a cord so it could be worn at a ritual feast by the man who had taken it.
Making a shrunken head was part of a ritual in which the spirit of the victim (one of three souls these people believe humans have and which they believe resides in the head) was pacified and the victim was made part of the killer’s group. The head was addressed by kinship terms during the feasts held for this spirit. The rituals thus serve to link enemies and the living and the dead. Since these peoples believed that human bodily shapes exist in limited numbers, and that they thus must be re-used by future generations, capturing an enemy’s head and adopting that person into one’s group provided an extra, symbolic body for one’s own descendants to inhabit. After the rituals, the head might be kept: some men were buried with heads they had taken. However, the making of shrunken heads and the rituals held for them were more important than keeping the head.
British explorers collected shrunken heads because they saw them as exotic curiosities. The tsantsas in this case were collected between 1871 and 1936. There was such demand for shrunken heads by museums and private collectors that some were made for sale from the heads of people who had died of natural causes. Many of the substitute heads made from monkeys and sloths were also sold. It is sometimes difficult to tell apart ‘genuine’, substitute, and fake tsantsas , but those used in rituals were very carefully prepared, and such steps as singing off facial hair may be omitted in creating a head for sale; likewise, the ornaments on a head made for sale may be those of the tribe of the maker rather than of the Shuar or Achuar people.
The tribal peoples who made these tsantsas no longer take or shrink the heads of enemies. This practice ended by the 1960s. They still live in their homelands by hunting, fishing, and horticulture as they always have, and fight against development and its effects upon them instead of against enemy tribes. (source)
The Pitt River’s can be found at
South Parks Road
Oxford OX1 3PP
And it’s opening times are 10.00 – 16.30 Tuesday to Sunday
(and bank holiday Mondays)
12.00 – 16.30 Monday
Photos I took of some very beautiful folk tattoos on a recent trip to South West India.
All images by Reba Maybury