Scarf project – St. Petersburg and/or Moscow

Scarf project – St. Petersburg and/or Moscow

I have started researching a bit into the criminal history of Russia, which of course means the Russian Mafia. Of course, with organised crime comes communication through symbols, in this case tattoos. It’s interesting to discover the meaning behind some of the beautiful tattoos that depict so much of what makes Russia a beautiful, pious (albeit sometimes hypocritical) country. From tattoos, I then began to look at the national symbols that one associates with Russia in general – the Hammer and Sickle (Soviet Russia) and the double-headed Eagle (Imperial Russia).

A piece that visualises one of these symbols that comes to mind is that by Andy Warhol, “Hammer & Sickle”, 1976 acrylic and silkscreen ink on canvas. Whilst not a huge fan of pop art, I like how he’s incorporated photographic tools into this piece, rather than the usual flat images seen depicting these national symbols. I also, unusually, like the simplicity of this piece and can imagine it as a scarf as it is. Whilst I’ll be unable to screen print during this particular brief, I feel the process really lends itself to the final result and would like to emulate some of effect if I can through my use of inks/paints and digital work, using varying levels of transparency and texture.

Finally for the moment, looking at Russian Symbolist painting and it’s visual interpretation of Russia I found- “The city of St. Petersburg itself became one of the major symbols utilized by the second generation of Russian symbolists. Blok’s verses on the imperial capital bring to life an impressionistic picture of the “city of a thousand illusions” and as a doomed world full of merchants and bourgeois figures.” Which is shown, as below, in Alexandre Benois’ Illustration to Alexander Pushkin’s Bronze Horseman from 1904. The city is shown a nightmarish place, the root of the countries dire troubles.

The looming silhouette of the horse and rider towering over the fleeing figure against the dark city-scape definitely brings about a sense of forboding and danger. Through the use of shadow and silhouette, contrasted with the bright colours one sees in Russian architecture, I’d like outline the darker aspects of my designs in a similar way.