Vladimir Shinkarev. Mitki 1986 Lithograph 43 x 43 sm. Edition 100 A/P
Vladimir Shinkarev is a founder member of the Mitki group, a St Petersburg collective of artists. They first appeared in 1984, and work in a variety of media, from music and publishing to writing and film-making. Mitki have a gallery in St Petersburg, and Shinkarev also wrote a book called Mitki. The members of Mitki drank cheap port wine, dressed shabbily, often wearing black and white Russian military shirts, and rejected the avant-garde and the trendy. This print shows a man in a stripy military shirt, drinking from a bottle, alongside Mikhail Lermontov and Aleksandr Pushkin. These two Russian 19th-century poets who criticised the politics of their time were heroes of the Mitki. The group’s emphasis was on creative, individual integrity, and on depicting the mundane reality of life. Instead of offering a view of the idealised communism of the Socialist Realists, the Mitki focused on everyday subjects with gentle, self-deprecating humour. This lithograph is drawn in the manner of a lubok, a popular Russian satirical print. It is expressive of Shinkarev’s own humorous style, and of the Mitki concern with ‘intentionally shabby images of crude everyday reality, with the aesthetic of hard drinking bouts and four-letter words…’ (Lydia Ginzburg).