Alexander Bushuev: «It's just a Rock'n'Roll»

Alexander Bushuev (Bush) was born in Leningrad in a family of young teachers. His mother Galina (nee Korobovа) has graduated from the Leningrad Institute of Culture, her father Sergey Korobov was the Chief of Staff of the Pskov airborne division. Bush's father Valery V. Bushuev is a graduate of the Institute of Physical Culture. On the paternal side, the entire family originates from beyond the Urals. After the graduation from the institutes in 1966, Bush's parents went to the secret city of Baltiysk in the Kaliningrad (former Koenigsberg) region. In 1971 the family had finally settled in Pskov.

Alex had spent his childhood in Pskov, graduated from the school № 8. In 1980 he entered the Leningrad River College and graduated with a degree in Hydraulic Engineering. In 1984–1992 he worked in the civil fleet as an engineer, the commander of the dredger and the captain.

— In the childhood I was an incredible book lover. Read all the books about the marine brotherhood, pirates, battles. Wanted to see the world, to see distant lands, Islands, sea and strange alien sky. Dreamed of becoming a sailor. As a result, I enrolled the Leningrad River College, graduated, and went on to conquer the Volga.

— When the new life began during Perestroika, I became terribly interested in it. I realised that now is the chance for a person to earn well and to arrange your life in another way. It was interesting for me and I threw in all serious — but only in the legal sphere. I was selling auto parts and technical gases, motorcycles and cars. By the way, the fascination with motociclism originates in that time. I rapidly changed professions, my companies went bankrupt or were ruined by others. I had to start from the beginning…


Bush started drawing at 33, lying (not on the stove as an epic hero Ilya Muromets), but on a hospital bed. He had broken his leg badly parking the beloved motorcycle weighing almost a third of a ton. So he had to stay for a long month and a half in the hospital in 1998.

— I had to lie all the time with my leg in a traction. And my good friend and mentor, I call him a teacher, Anatoly Elizarov gave me a sketchbook and the first set of paints with the words: «Alex, you still have nothing to do, try to draw». Then everything was as in a fog. At first I drew just to stretch my hands and some time after there came a feeling of happiness.

His first personal exhibition was held in January 1999 in the United States, in the town of Olympia, Washington. It was organised by Susan Emley, an American who had seen accidentally the work of the young artist during her teaching practice in Pskov. Alexander is still great friends with Susan who had a fundamental influence on the formation of his picturesque career.


In 2000, during his second exhibition in New York, USA, Bushuev has been acquainted with the St. Petersburg art group «Mitki», two of whom, Dmitry Shagin and Andrei Filippov (along with Anatoly Yelizarov), Bush calls his teachers. In the same year Bush joined the Creative Association  «Mitki», taking over from colleagues not so much of artistic techniques but a philosophy. So he learned to «mitkovat’», a verb, that means to work in the bright «Mitki»’s way for which you need to wear a vest (can be a virtual one) and tune to a joyful and slightly hooligan mood. Since 2000 Bush takes part practically in all exhibitions of the «Mitki» in Russia and abroad, actively exhibits in person.

— Dmitry Shagin said so seriously at the beginning of our creative relationship: «Alex, you should keep away from all those art courses and schools. You have a good seed which you should carry on and develop. In any case you should not learn. Because we, еlder «Mitki», in our majority are educated people and we are severely hampered because of the professional learning».

— I have another teacher Taisiya Alexandrovna Shvetsova. She's a bright person, a wonderful woman, she began to draw at her later age. And so it was exactly she who has taught me the attitude to the painting. It's simple: if you're in a bad mood and sit down to draw, you may get nothing and fail. Even in the day when I think about something bad, I know that it's better not to take the brush in a hand. And when I took on this simple and light formula, I actually did a new cycle of painting. I can say that from this moment I began to draw in a meaningful way.


Acrylic rock-n-roll

In his work Alexander Bushuev considers that it is important not to depict but to display the status of the current time. He notes that he does not see much of a difference between the painting and the music.

A favorite theme of the artist — the urban landscape (or perhaps music of the cities). His work filled with love and warmth is the essence of the experience of roads, architecture, monasteries, rivers and bridges, cars and trams. The captured image retains the quickness of glance accompanied by the appropriate emotions. And it seems as if the music begins: any paint is a note, any brushstroke is a chord, chords together with strokes create the melody, often ironic and humorous. It is the music, but in acrylic and on a canvas. Bush likes to draw analogies between the music and the visual arts: «Rock-n-roll is based on three chords and I have three or four colours, not more. The same as rock-n-roll... Furthermore, the rock-n-roll is characterised by jokes, the irony... I have the same thing».

— Bushuev is the diverse artist. He likes to change the writing style, themes, format (from miniatures to monumental canvases). To stagnate, to exploit the mode once found is not his feature. His peculiar singularity is to wonder, to marvel, and afterwards to share these surprise and delight with the audience. Please do not think that it was very easy for Bush to find his own pictorial language (one should not call it a style). He is in painting already for more than twenty years. A self-taught artist, Bushuev has tried different techniques. He started with tempera, later tried to paint in oil and was fascinated with the result. But now he prefers acrylics. This material suits him, although he admits that "painting with acrylic, it is as if you coil the spring and when you write afterwards in oil — you fire, and the effect even exceeds your expectations» — says Olga Koshelkova, Pskov curator and art critic.

«Spontaneous, natural and light» are the key definitions for Bushuev's works. The artist seeks to reflect the world in a simple and open form, that is why his pictures are eagerly exhibited in European galleries and centres of contemporary art.

Bush's works are located in the Pskov State United Historical-Architectural and Art Museum Reserve, Riga's Museum of Naive Art on the island of Andrejsala (Riga), the State Memorial Historical-Literary and Natural-Landscape Museum-Reserve of A. S. Pushkin «Mikhailovskoye», St. Petersburg State Museum «Tsarskoselskaya collection», Museum of Condasa (Viljandi, Estonia), the Museum of the Creative Association «Mitki», St.-Petersburg, «Dar» gallery in Pskov, POP UP MUSEUM of russian contemporary art in Moscow, in many domestic and foreign private collections. Among the admirers of Bush's talent are well-known Russian politicians, businessmen and musicians.

Alexander Bushuev lives and works in Pskov where he is engaged in active public, educational and charitable activities.

Selected exhibitions

1999 — Olympia, Washington DC, USA;
2000 — New York, USA;
2002 — Bielefeld, Germany;
2007 —  «Labels». Moscow — Saint-Petersburg;
2008 — «Mitki in Pskov»;
2009 — «Mitki» to «Pushkin Reserve», Pushkinskie Gory;
2009 — «Mitki in Novgorod». Novgorod The Great;
2010-12 — «Stop on Demand», throughout the country;
2011 — «Mitki in Space», Museum of Cosmonautics, Moscow;
2011 — «Mitki» in Yekaterinburg.
2010 — «Anniversary Exhibition at the Manege», Saint-Petersburg;
2013 — "Posters", Moscow, Saint-Petersburg;
2013 — «Mitki and the Russian Statehood», all over the country;
2013 — Exhibition for the Moscow City Day. The Seasons Magazine, Moscow;
2015 — «Aphorisms. Kozma Prutkov», «Vellum» gallery, Moscow;
2015 — «My Rock-n-Roll», Pskov;
2016 — «Kozma Prutkov and Mitki. Apothegms», State Literary Museum, Moscow;
2016 — «Vinogradov’s Gallery» Berlin, Germany;
2016 — «Mitki in Berlin», «Russian house», Berlin, Germany;
2016 — Heinävesi, Finland;
2016 — «My Banks», «Na Patriarshikh» сultural center, Moscow;
2017 — «Arefievs and Mitki». «Vellum» gallery at ARTPLAY, Moscow;
2017 — «Ivan-tea (The Fireweed)», «Dar» gallery, Pskov;
2017 —Eight works were presented at the verntisage of POP UP MUSEUM of Russian contemporary art, Moscow.
2018 — «The «О» Time», POP UP MUSEUM of Russian contemporary art, Moscow.