Alexandr Grigorev is a Russian artist, architect and designer creating metamodern expressionist fine art illustrations and paintings with a postmodern pulse-raising erotic edge. Penthouse spoke with Grigorev about the Soviet-era magazine that inspired his style, how social media hinders artists, and the power of provocative (Sex Satire) art.
Would you say that growing up in Russia has had an effect on your art?
Probably yes. All traditional Russian art is focused on social topics, such as human rights, relationships with God and the tragedy of human existence. It becomes your background and defines what art is, in general. My personal practice is a mix of Asian contemplative meditation and Soviet satiric.
What inspires your work?
I’m inspired by images, mainly. It’s like an itch. I will see a pose, face or color in a photo, on Instagram or in real life, and from that moment, it lives with me, forcing me to relocate it to paper.
How did you develop your satire style?
The whole sex satire world, as well as the style of my other work, came by itself with practice. Like other artists, I tried to copy some masters, or more accurately, emulate some elements of their style. I was never happy with the results, so I mixed in illustration, anime and Soviet caricature, and it became better. I started learning academic drawing and painting in high school, which I think has helped me a lot.
What equipment do you use to create your pieces?
I don’t do sketches in the traditional way because I don’t define sketch and final image as separate stages of the process. From my point of view, sketches are always much more expressive and powerful. I do quite a lot of drawings on my iPad, and then use them as elements in collages. Then I print them out and redraw them on a canvas.
How did you first get into Sex Satire art?
I drew a lot as a child. I was probably a great kid for my parents, because I was happy to pick up a pencil and spend 10 to 12 hours silently drawing. My parents tried to find a course or a tutor for me, but it never worked because I had an internal understanding of what I wanted to do, and the process of studying wasn’t interesting to me.
I was involved in the graffiti movement but lost interest quickly because most of the art just revolves around typical lettering, which I still find really strange.
Is art a full-time gig for you?
Partly. In addition to fine art, this Sex Satire art, I also started doing sculptures and collectible design, which I also define as art. Besides that, I run a graphic design studio.
Who or what are your biggest artistic influences?
My grandfather had a huge collection of Soviet humor magazines called Krokodil, which means crocodile in Russian. During my early years, I loved to spend hours looking at the images on their pages. Of course, I didn’t understand the jokes, especially during the period where I couldn’t even read. But the drawing style, colors and compositions affected me a lot. A lot of people to this day say that they recognize this influence in my art.
What draws you to creating erotic illustrations?
I like the power of sexual images. The Sex Satire catches a person’s attention, and I love that people find they can’t control their own reaction to them, whether they love them or hate them.
Additionally, it’s interesting to play with the viewer. To provoke the viewer, to shock and to sometimes disturb them. With that being said, I never show sexual scenes. They should happen in a person’s imagination.
You also create jewelery. Tell us about that.
Let’s say there are two branches to my art practice. Figurative—which includes fine art and fashion, that is clothing with my art prints—and abstraction, which encompasses sculpture, architecture, jewelry and collectible design. I see the jewelry I design as small-scale, wearable sculptures.
What other types of jobs did you have before art?
I’ve only had one other job in my life. I was an architect in an architectural studio, but I was focused on the creative aspect of design, so it was really close to art, actually.
What advice would you give to someone wanting to pursue art as a career?
From my point of view, if you are an artist you don’t really have a choice to pursue art or not. It’s in your nature, and it’s happening automatically, like breathing or your heart beating. You can’t control it. I’d rather say that art makes you, instead of you making art.
The only advice I can give is listen to yourself above listening to others. These days we spend a lot of time wrapped up in social media, watching what other people do. Doing this switches you from creator to recipient mode, and you can’t do anything artistic in this role.
Tell us something interesting about you. Something we might not expect.
I’m a practicing Buddhist. In fact, on a deeper level my artworks are a visual meditation.
Do you have any career goals?
To become one of world’s top artists, like Takashi Murakami or KAWS. And all that follows being in Penthouse.
What are you working on right now?
I’m trying to make animation as I feel it could give another dimension to my art.
Have you ever had a muse?
Considering the erotic context of my art, you probably you know the answer, but a gentleman can’t discuss it.
[We actually have a public section that runs occasionally called the “Muse” in the magazine. Could be we have no gentlemen here. How sad. -Ed.]