Russian-Canadian artist Ivan Alifan’s provocative figurative paintings are intended to inspire varying reactions from viewers. Yet, the artist says his portraits aren’t supposed to “render physical characteristics but rather create a language of underlying sexual subtexts.” His recent work has taken a decidedly more dessert-inspired approach, further exploring the ideas of pleasure and ecstasy.
Even in the artist’s titles, he’s playing with us. Whether it’s “Deserted,” “Icecream,” or “Creme Brulee,” Alifan is offering viewers more straightforward explanations with the full implication that we’re not actually talking about these frozen treats. “2D Love” is slightly less ambiguous, with a closely cropped moment between a young subject and the anime character on his pillow. It seems to be somewhat of a departure from the more surreal portraits typically crafted by Alifan.
Alifan outlines this broader charge in a statement: “Whether an individual sexualizes the figure, or becomes embarrassed and nervous by the mere suggestion, this is all a process which occurs independently from the painting,” Alifan says. “Breaking down barriers of the different modes in which the body can exist in social spheres and contemporary art.”