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Indepth Arts News:

"Nature is a Great Magician: Alex Volborth"
2007-08-09 until 2007-08-26
State Russian Museum
St. Petersburg, , RU Russian Federation

On August 9, 2007 the State Russian Museum opens the “Nature is a Great Magician!” exhibition of Alex Volborth in the Stroganov Palace. Alex Volborth was born in Finland, where his parents emigrated to in 1920. During the reign of Catherine II his ancestors moved from Germany to Russia, to St Petersburg, where they owned a house on 6 Nevsky Prospect. Since then all the Volborths have been scientists: paleontologists, chemists, mineralogists, professors, members of the Academy of Science and the Mineralogical Society. Many prominent scientists including the academician Ivan Pavlov were among the close friends of the family. The boy got primary knowledge of physics, chemistry, mathematics and foreign languages at home and started to paint in watercolours while very young. Then Alex Volborth studied at the Helsinki University, where he acquired doctorate and grant from the Outokumpu company to continue his education in the universities of Vienna and Heidelberg, as well as in the California Institute of Technology in Pasadena.

From 1956 he held a post of mineralogist and professor of geochemistry in Nevada, professor of general geology, geochemistry, engineering geology in universities in California, North Dakota, Canada (Halifax) and Washington. Since 1979 Alex Volborth has lived in Montana (USA), where he had taught in the Montana Tech of the University of Montana till 1996. Now he does some student advising and consulting for the representatives of companies and non-government organisations. His house on the shore of Flathead Lake near Dayton is filled with books, paintings and music. Exploring deserts during his geological research, far from roads, in stiff terrains, Alex Volborth often enjoyed beauty beyond the reach of ordinary people. Lecturing in various universities, at the meetings of scientific societies and some organisations he visited numerous museums of art and archeology: the Hermitage, the Russian Museum, the Tretyakov Gallery, the Louvre, the Museo del Prado and the Vatican Museums. The patterns on stone surfaces riminded him of the representations seen in the museums: icons and works of classical and modern art. Alex Volborth was deeply impressed by the showcases in the Feodosy Chernyshev Museum of Geology (VSEGEI) in St Petersburg. The exhibition comprised polished stones depicting various landscapes, cosmic space, sea waves and stone flowers. After the retirement Alex Volborth remembered that there were a lot of interesting views and odd surfaces seen on the rocks, when he worked as a geologist. There are a lot of “sights” in nature that remind him of sculpture, architecture and paintings by Mikhail Vrubel, Marc Chagall, Wassily Kandinsky, Gustav Klimt, Salvador Dalí, Edvard Munch, Andy Warhol, Paul Klee, Pablo Picasso, Peter Paul Rubens, Vincent Willem van Gogh and Henri Matisse. The aim of the exhibition is to reveal the images hidden in nature, a secret fantastic world, rocks, sultry deserts, odd patches of bright minerals and lichens, the beauty, variety and richness of natural “representations” found by the scientist in the caves and on wind-worn rocks in the Mojave desert in southern Nevada.

When travelling for three years (2002-05) he took 6000 digital photographs of those places. Some photographs are given their names in honour of the renowned photographers (Tina Modotti), philosophers (Francis Bacon), writers (Miguel de Cervantes Saavedra and George Gordon Noel Byron), book characters (Don Quijote de la Mancha) and mythological and folklore scenes.

This is the first ever comprehensive exhibition of Alex Volborth in Russia. It comprises over 70 unique associations- photographs by Alex Volborth, a professor of geology, renowned expert in the field of geochemistry, mineralogy and analitics.

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