Aleksey Sakhnov (born in 1976) lives in a psychoneurological asylum in Petergof. Almost immediately after he settled there, Alexander Ilyin, the Chief Doctor, arranged several exhibitions of his graphic works on the walls of the ward, recognizing the artist's exceptional talent. Little is known about Aleksey's life before the asylum. He expresses his thoughts with eloquent gestures, often understandable without words; it is very likely that he has hearing impairment. However, this does not get in his way of talking through graphics, installations, photography, video and sculpture in his original manner.
Aleksey draws in his room in the asylum ward, often on anything he can get: pieces of books found who knows where, empty tea, food or Haloperidol packages, even on the card-files, possibly found in a trash can. Sometimes he comes to the art studio of the charitable organization Perspektivy with a pack of his drawings in order to exchange them for art materials. Sometimes he stays and works in there. When Aleksey was given the opportunity to photograph, the subjects of his drawings migrated into his snap shots. The same houses, roads, closed spaces bounded by fences and barbed wire can be seen there too. The world is boring and uncomfortable. One can feel uneasy because of these photographs, as well as of the drawings of Sakhnov. They sober you up, make you see things in a new disturbing way.
Aleksey depicts a lot of interiors in which one can identify a prison or an asylum, but this is not always a literal reproduction of nature: rather, the artist creates dark architectural fantasies in the spirit of Piranesi's dungeons, starting from the impoverished interiors of a state institution. And yet, thanks to the rare genre scenes and the perfect display of perspective, it is tempting to call these drawings realistic. Some of Sakhnov's works are combined in a series due to a cross-cutting narrative, a common color or compositional solution. It is also worth noting the infrequent, but vivid appearance of fantastic characters - anthropomorphic creatures with animal heads - in those very prison-like interiors. This mystical touch brings to mind the writings of magic realists like Gabriel García Márquez and Jorge Luis Borges.
Sakhnov's personal exhibitions were held in the Library of Book Graphics (St. Petersburg, 2015), the Toy Museum (St. Petersburg, 2015), the Art-Naiv Gallery (Moscow, 2017). The artist took part in collective exhibitions at the Anna Akhmatova Museum (St. Petersburg, 2018), the Street Art Museum (St. Petersburg, 2018), the Winzavod Center for Contemporary Art (Moscow, 2020), the Kunsthalle Nummer Sieben Gallery (St. Petersburg , 2021), and in the Shirota & Dolgota project within the framework of the 4th Ural Industrial Biennale of Contemporary Art (Yekaterinburg, 2017). His works are kept in the collections of Vladimir Gavrilov (Yaroslavl) and the Museum of Everything (Great Britain).