Leonid Tishkov has been an important figure on the contemporary Moscow arts scene for the past twenty years. Creatures brings Tishkov’s surreal universe to an American audience for the first time. Published in conjunction with an exhibition "Dabloids and Elephants" that originated at the Duke University Museum of Art and that will travel internationally throughout 1994, the book features brilliant color images of the artist’s drawings, paintings, soft sculpture, books, and prints, as well as a play.
The work in Creatures is centered on the imaginative and playful idea of the Dabloids, foot-shaped creatures of all sizes and colors who emerge magically from the Dablus, a sausage-like object that appears one misty morning in the fields of a collective farm. Tishkov’s drawings, paintings, and sculptures recount the history of the Dablus and the Dabloids. These mystical creatures are at once pets and gods, beings immensely wise and yet foolish. They are surreal manifestations of the artistic consciousness even as they are symbols of human isolation. In this sense, Tishkov’s roots in surrealism are charged with humorous social commentary often reminiscent of Hogarth, Red Grooms, and Robert Crumb.
Tishkov explores other mythological and absurdist themes in a series of elephant watercolors in which people live within an elephant trunk. The book also features a translation of the text of Tishkov’s play "Dabloids—A Fantasy," as well as brief essays that provide an introduction to the artist and his work, his mythology, and his roots in Russian folk culture.
Creatures introduces a major contemporary Russian artist to the western world. It should delight all who enter its world and should expand the horizons of all who delight in its artistic merits.