It’s quite common walking down a street and coming across a coke can flattened by a car or smashed by the former owner. Well, first of all it’s a shame that cans end up like this, because they are a sustainable packaging, but won’t recycle lying on the floor … But unlike Andrei Krioukov, it didn’t yet occur to us to pick such a can up to use it as art and we guess that the same goes for you, doesn’t it?
The Russian-born artist takes can love to a whole new level and the results look amazing. He paints everyday objects and has specialised on turning trash – like flattened cans – into art. ‘One-way-realism’ is what Krioukov calls it. The aim is to hold up a mirror to his viewers and reveal their own consumer habits especially to themselves. We think this is a great project and the results are amazing. Take a look at some of Andrei Krioukov’s amazing artworks!
Meeting fellow can lovers is always exciting and we love to interact and exchange our thoughts and views. So, it was beyond question that we HAD TO do an interview with Andrei Krioukov and drill him with our most urgent questions.
Tell us how it all began: Where did you get your inspiration to turn cans into artwork? What’s so special about cans?
Cans are spread all across the world and for me, they are a symbol of globalisation. They resemble our world and whether in America or Africa, they have become cultural assets. They are used everywhere and are even beautiful after usage. Since flattened cans work very well as the base for pop-art illustrations, I also admire them as design and creation objects. Since I was a student in the 80’s/90’s I was heavily intrigued with waste and particularly recyclables like cans. At that time in Russia, Western packaging could only be found in hotels with Western guests, so I had never seen a can in a grocery store. Instead, I collected cans from the hotel’s trash barrels and used them to create my compositions and artworks. To me, it was like a theatre play, because the packaging and cans in my works somehow communicated with my audience.
In 1986, I was abroad for the first time for an internship in Bulgaria and that was the first time that I saw a coke can. Ever since it’s been THE symbol of globalisation and our modern society for me. That’s why I keep using it as the protagonist in my works.
Using empty and/or flattened cans provides a sense of freedom when creating art, as composition and order are never fixed or prescribed. On the contrary, they are unique objects with their own form and structure. In a way, I create snapshots of these objects and use the element of coincidence to my advantage. That is what makes creating my art so interesting to me.
What’s the message behind your artwork?
Coca Cola is a very strong brand that can be found all across the globe, just like cans: they are used everywhere from the North Pole to Somalia because of their outstanding recyclability. For me, that’s an indicator of how small our world is and that we humans have a far bigger impact on nature than we think. When there were ethnic or ecological catastrophes in the past, people on the other side of the globe didn’t catch that and lived on peacefully. Today, even the smallest event is mediated worldwide and affects us all, so we have to broaden our horizons and start thinking open-mindedly as well as globally.
With my artwork, I want to show the world how it really is and provide a snapshot in time. I reflect current developments and demonstrate them to the audience. That’s how we live, that’s how the world around us is. Every spectator experiences my art differently: as a challenge for our modern consumerist society or a beautiful composition of colours. That’s up to whomever looks at it.
Explain what etching has to do with cans? How do you combine the two aspects and what’s so special about the results?
I invented this technique two years ago and still like it a lot. It’s a very clean, elegant method to express my ideas and it enables me to cut right to the chase of the matter. With etching, I can put my ideas into a simple and clear form and make them decent and comprehensible.
I use flattened cans that I find in various countries and cities as etching sheets and print colours from the can directly onto the paper. That’s how I end up with an imprint that reflects our modern world. With a similar underlying idea, I encase beverage cans that are covered by a layer of 24-carat gold in acrylic. The golden cans in acrylic are a representation of our time – an imprint – that will last for eternity. Artists used to draw jars and onions because those were everyday objects of their time. Today, these objects are packaging with typographies, cans with colourful and bold designs and I like illustrating them.
What role do cans play in your private life? Do you have a favourite dish that features canned food?
Lately, I’ve been working a lot with the Campbell soup can (LINK). Nowadays’ Berlin reminds me a lot of New York in the 80’s and as an homage to this time, I’d like to arrange an exhibition featuring exclusively this can on 30 – 40 pictures. Of course, I also tried the Campbell tomato soup and it tasted like a flashback to long-ago times. It’s really strange eating a pop-art-icon.
We are avowing can lovers, as you might have noticed by now. We’ve done lots of crazy, creative and delicious things with them. The sky is the limit when it comes to the choosing cans, right? Andrei Krioukov knows that and successfully shows us that cans can be a fascinating addition to contemporary art.
What can-related painting by Andrei Krioukov appeals to you the most? And why? Go ahead and let us know what you think in the comment section!