Spirit of the Romanovs comes alive with “Imperial Russia,” an Exhibition of New Works by Artist Nikos Floros in St. Petersburg, Russia

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New Exhibition by artist Nikos Floros inspired by last imperial family of Russia, the Romanovs, visited by over 4 million people.

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Nikos Floros, the artist, during the opening of "Imperial Russia"

The haunting portraits of the last Russian tsar, tsarina and their five children, are the central artworks of the latest exhibition, entitled "Imperial Russia," by the internationally-recognized artist of Hellenic descent, Nikos Floros, presently at the State Museum of St. Isaac’s Cathedral in St. Petersburg, Russia. Commissioned by the Russian state as part of their yearlong, 2016 Year of Greece in Russia, the exhibition opened on June 8, 2016 and is inspired by Russia’s last imperial family, the Romanovs. The Russian Orthodox Church Outside Russia canonized the family in 1981.

Tsar Nicholas II was deposed in February 1917 during the turbulent period of the Bolshevik Revolution, and he and his immediate family were executed in Yekaterinburg in July 1918. “The portraits are inspired by some of the family's last official photographs. The images in those photographs seem to reflect the family's emotions and apprehensions. Their eyes are filled with sadness, as if they have an understanding of the tragic events to follow," Floros noted. That emotional expressiveness is clearly evident in the portraits created by Floros.

The centerpiece of the "Imperial Russia" exhibition is the imposing color mosaic portrait of Tsar Nicholas II in full military attire. By his side is the black-and-white portrait of Tsarina Alexandra Feodorovna, noteworthy for the dramatic emotional expressiveness of her eyes. Surrounding these are black and white portraits of their four daughters, Olga, Tatiana, Anastasia and Maria as well as their little brother and heir, the tragic Alexei, all highlighted by a brilliant, flowing, red-colored aluminum drape.

Seven Faberge egg-inspired sculptures accompany the seven mosaic portraits of each family member. The egg-shaped sculptures have a brilliant outer shell of broken glass, and open up to reveal spectacular hearts. Floros said, "I wanted to capture the "heart" of each Romanov family member. The original Faberge eggs were produced in a series of limited editions by Peter Carl Faberge (1846-1920), a Russian of French descent. The original jeweled pieces were known to be the imperial family’s favorite Easter presents. Floros reinterpreted these jeweled pieces using a new medium for him - broken glass. “My aim was to express the tsars’ fragile lives and use the sculptures to express their ‘hearts'."

The portraits come alive through the artist’s signature medium of aluminum soft-drink cans, specifically Coca-Cola cans, cut into small mosaic-like pieces and recreated into these expressive, haunting portraits. Mr. Floros first presented this mosaic technique two years ago in St. Petersburg, Russia during his retrospective exhibition at the Academy of Fine Arts. In addition, cut ribbons of aluminum cans are weaved together in a fabric-like technique which is an original method patented by the artist in 2003. Nikos Floros uses materials from everyday life, aluminum soft drink cans, wrapping paper, newspapers, etc., creating highly original and creative works of art. Using large numbers of minute pieces of aluminum from soft drink cans, he has created brilliant and beautiful mosaics. He also uses the same medium to create spectacular sculptures made of aluminum which he weaves into a fabric-like material. For this exhibition, the artist worked for the first time with broken glass which he used to create the moving "heart", egg-shaped sculptures accompanying each portrait. "My exhibitions in Russia have inspired me to explore new materials and techniques," explains the Nikos Floros. "The mosaic technique utilizing aluminum was first presented in my exhibition two years ago with the portrait of Catherine the Great, and this year I have used broken glass for the first time."

Floros, remarking on the commission he received for this exhibition, believes that Russia is reexploring its ‘Imperial’ tradition and history, including its Orthodox and Byzantine roots. "During the rule of Tsar Nicholas II, Russian literature, art and culture reached their peak," Floros noted. "In addition, there is a special Greek-Russian bond forged by our shared spiritual heritage, Orthodoxy.”

St. Petersburg, a historic city with an imperial as well as a revolutionary past, is also President Vladimir Putin’s birthplace. The Cathedral of St. Isaak is one of the largest and most beautiful cathedrals in the world. This special exhibition by a Hellenic artist is organized under the auspices of the Russian Orthodox Church. The works will remain on display through the end of August with plans for the exhibition to continue on to Moscow, Russia, where the the works will be displayed for several months. "Imperial Russia" will be the last exhibition of this type hosted by the Cathedral of St. Isaak, which served as a museum during the Soviet era. The Cathedral of St. Isaak will once again be part of the Russian Orthodox Church and become an active place of worship.    

“Imperial Russia” is the fourth exhibition at state museums of Russia by Nikos Floros. It is estimated that over 5 million visitors viewed his sculptures of costumes inspired by Maria Callas and Grace Kelly at Moscow’s Tsaritsyno State Museum and Reserve in 2013, which was followed by an equally successful retrospective exhibition at the Academy of Fine Arts in St. Petersburg the following year.

The "Imperial Russia" exhibition is organized under the auspices of: 2016 The Year of Greece in Russia; the Consulate General of Greece in St. Petersburg; the Greek National Tourist Office in Russia; UNESCO-HELLAS; the City of St. Petersburg; and is made possible with the support of the Prefecture of the Peloponnese, Greece, and the transportation sponsor, Eurotrans.

Curator of Exhibition: Aristotelis Karantis
Organizer of Exhibition: Julia Sysalova
Communications: Dora Ziongas

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