Alexander Kaletski studied acting in Moscow from 1965 to 1969 and went on to a highly successful career on stage, television, and film productions. At the same time he held underground art shows and performed sings of protest. In 1975, fleeing political prosecution and the threat of arrest by the KGB, artist and author Alexander Kaletski left the USSR. He went first to Vienna for a week, then to Rome for a month, and finally New York where he initially lived in a welfare hotel, then a room in Queens and finally an East Side studio he still uses today.
Kaletski’s first love was always painting. As a child he won several art competitions. At the time, in Soviet Russia only officially designated artists were allowed to legally sell their work, which was forbidden to be abstract, surreal or critical of Soviet life. Kaletski refused to paint in a style of socialist realism. But he painted anyway and went underground, where he found a thriving culture that provided him with an audience for his art. In the Moscow underground Kaletski was working on the series of watercolors which he was selling to the foreigners on the black market. Leaving the USSR (in 1975) Kaletski carried with him these watercolors.
During that time in the Soviet Union, the works of unsanctioned or “non conformist” painters were forbidden and exhibiting as an outsider was considered a serious crime. Forgoing other necessary belongings, the artist had to pay for the release of his own pieces. When Alexander arrived to America his watercolors were immediately exhibited in many Universities around the United States, constituting some of the earliest non-conformist art to be viewed in America. His works surprised audiences as they showed unexpectedly that behind the Iron Curtain existed not only gloom and sadness, but also humor, beauty and hope.
The first years in America as an artist without money to buy paint or canvas, Alexander was drawn by his natural talent for improvisation to the thousands of cardboard boxes that litter the streets of the Big Apple. Kaletski became enthralled with the high quality of disposable packing materials in the USA. For the artist, those boxes provided unique, if unusual, components for the creative process. Beginning with commercial cardboard packaging he collaged the material adding line and color. The resulting artwork reveals, informs, provokes, but most often, amuses the viewer.
In 1996 his Cardboard People exhibition in New York City became an instant success. Since then Alexander Kaletski has regularly exhibited his paintings in museum exhibitions in the USA and abroad (Austria, England, The Netherlands, Switzerland, Belarus and Japan) presenting to the audience the variety of styles, techniques and concepts.
ALEXANDER KALETSKI (b. 1946, Russia), immigrated to the United States in 1975. He lives and works in New York City. The artist has exhibited widely in shows internationally including New York, Mexico, China, Japan, Austria, Belarus and France. His works are included in the permanent collections of the Voorlinden Museum in the Netherlands, the Claryville Art Center in New York, the Museum of Contemporary Art in Belarus, the Meeschaert Collection in France and the Lynda and Stewart Resnick Collection in California.