Since launching his fashion label Aglec two years back, Moscow-born designer Gosha Rubchinskiy has been garnering a lot of attention for his menswear inspired by the Russian streets. Not content with limiting himself to a single medium, the 25-year-old multi-talent now has his first UK photography exhibition at new London space the Pleasant Gallery, again looking for inspiration to the local Muscovite street kids and skaters who are his friends. As with his clothing- the first season’s collection of which had the tongue-in-cheek name Evil Empire- his show reflects on the complex identity of a new post-Soviet Russia. It reveals a nation both highly patriotic and steeped in heritage, yet saturated in culture from the west, as images such as a young girl in a Playboy T-shirt with a whiskey and a coke bottle in either hand jostle for gallery space with photographs of a looming statue of expansionist tsar Peter the Great and soldiers in a tank trundling through the streets. We caught up with the Russian artist to talk about the ideas behind the show- which is on now until November 13.
Dazed Digital: Your work has a raw, brutally sexy aesthetic that's clearly originated more from the DIY skater/street context than the white gallery space or mainstream fashion - are other people in the cultural scene in Russia generally supporting what you are doing?
Gosha Rubchinskiy: I have never thought of it- if the cultural scene is supportive or not- I am doing what I'm doing for my friends who support me a lot.
DD: Patriotism figures large in your pictures- does this and western influences and fashions easily co-exist in Russia for young people?
Gosha Rubchinskiy: This is very unique to Russia- never mind how big western influence is, Russian patriotism is very strong and it has always been that way- these two things co-existing. What I am doing is mostly about understanding how western culture influences the youth in Russia and what part of this culture is being rejected.
DD: The landscape comes through in your work as so expansive and harsh. Is this Russian aesthetic for the huge and brutal a direct response to the natural environment?
Gosha Rubchinskiy: I think this view you can find in any eastern European country, and not only in Russia. It's more about winter melancholy and it is a symbol of the nostalgia for childhood.
DD: Do you still regard Russia as the same kind of cultural giant which produced artists like Tarkovsky and Dostoevsky? Are their cultural products relevant to young Russian creators, or are you getting your influence now from other things?
Gosha Rubchinskiy: Many of my teenage friends are reading Dostoevsky now, and I myself am a big admirer of Tarkovsky movies, Andrei Rublev being one of my biggest influences.
DD: You have spoken before about the large role religion plays in the Russian psyche- does it have much influence on your work?
Gosha Rubchinskiy: I think that religion was so deep in Russian people’s lives that they carried it through the Soviet times. I think Russians are being brought up in a religious way in general. Like for me, when I was a kid, I didn't pay much attention to the place religion had in my life, but now I understand that I was growing up with it.
DD: Your menswear fashion ranges have also been creating a lot of talk. What can we expect for next season?
Gosha Rubchinskiy: We have just finished production of the special selection of pieces for Dover Street Market- they will be available later this week and we are currently working on the presentation of SS 11 Collection and on the new video and fanzine.
The Gosha Rubchinskiy exhibtiion is on at the Pleasant Gallery until Novmember 3 at 30d Great Sutton Street, Clerkenwell, London, EC1V 0DU