George Pusenkoff is a Russian painter and installation artist, recognized for his artworks that combine two cultural realms which have rarely been intermeshed this closely before – modern art and cultural history and digital image production with new media and computer technology.
Pusenkoff reacted to development of computer technology with a digital aesthetic that corresponds with the postmodern perception of the world. Born in 1953 in Krasnopolje, USSR, Pusenkoff studied art as well as computer sciences. He got his education at the Moscow Academy for Polygraphic Design, and at the Moscow Technical University for Informatics.
In his early career, Puskenoff worked predominantly with acrylic, rendering vibrant forms at various stages of abstraction, though he gave them titles that anchored them in specific narrative contexts, often referencing art-historical subject matter, as in Kidnapping of Europe, Bronzino, Ciccolina and Yves Klein. Pusenkoff painted his first digital border in 1996, simulating the 8bit look of the first computerized windows. He continued to experiment with the visual language of the computer screen, at times using just the browser window bar as an abstracted geometrical form.
The pixels are always visible in Pusenkoff’s works, sometimes emphasized, sometimes hardly recognizable. For the artist, the pixels are not a metaphorical figure but an acting unit as well as a sign of a real interaction between art and technology.
Mass culture has always been subject to imitation and consideration in Puskenoff’s work, including icons of the post-digital age as cyber-culture has become increasingly ubiquitous. Many of his motifs originate from the visual agenda of the last hundred years. He invokes famous icons of modern art such as Kazimir Malevich’s Black Square, Josef Albers’ Homage to the Square or Piet Mondrian’s reduced geometric paintings and transfers them into a new aesthetic.
In 1999, Pusenkoff painted his version of Andy Warhol’s take on the iconic Renaissance Da Vinci original – his silk screened Mona Lisa, surrounded by a browser box, became the basis for an ongoing, travelling installation. George Pusenkoff has translated Leonardo’s beauty with the help of the computer and digital media technology into a visual language that fits our times, and opened up new levels of interpretation. This is especially true for his conceptual works with this famous portrait, such as the photographically documented travels of a black-and-yellow Mona Lisa through Russia. The so-called Mona Lisa Tower is a freestanding, accessible tower made from aluminum. Inside the roofless tower 500 square Mona Lisa portraits in any shade of color hang closely together – a continuation of serial painting in the age of digital reproduction and an overwhelming open-air vortex of images.
Pusenkoff’s work has been exhibited internationally at venues including the State Russian Museum in St. Petersburg, Moscow’s Museum of Modern Art, and the 2005 Venice Biennale. In recent period, George Pusenkoff has been exhibiting along with his son, Ilya, who is a photo and video artist, under a name Pusnkoff&Pusenkoff. A Cologne-based art duo is approaching an interdisciplinary dialogue between their artistic material – the still and the moving image, the abstract and the figurative, implying their artistic visions into captivating video installations.
The artist lives and works both in Cologne, Germany and Moscow, Russia.