By Marguerite Gil
How does one live up to a name like Count Tolstoi? Dimitri, the great grandson of the legendary Russian writer, has successfully risen to the challenge and no doubt made his great-grandfather proud in the process.
Count Dimitri Tolstoi (he spells it with an i) is a contemporary arts photographer based in Paris, France. His day job as an ad/fashion photographer keeps the paychecks coming, but when the workday ends, his artistic cravings take over and he easily slides into the bizarre crevices of his imagination.
The title of this show is Still Life… Not Exactly, and it won’t make much sense until you actually step into the Art Rouge Gallery. Walk through this former warehouse-turned-art space and chances are the works on display will evoke various emotions, including awe and most probably some level of disturbance.
Tolstoi enjoys bringing together opposing forces while creating a new visual reality. His views on life and death are, to say the least, highly provocative. For instance, Peggy, who must have been a lovely swine before she met the butcher’s block, now extends a well-groomed, flesh-toned hoof toward the viewer. On her delicate wrist, a tapered gold bracelet demonstrates her passion for fine jewelry. Ginger must also have been quite an alluring chick in the hen house, but after Dimitri’s intervention, she’s taken on a bluish cast, much like the skin color one would find on a coroner’s slab. Still the flirtatious coquette, her pointy claws are painted a bright crimson red.
His Insects series pictures are matte-finished and connote a peaceful environment. But as Tolstoi reminds visitors, hungry bugs can be ruthless when it comes to sustenance. The floral part of the show exposes a lighter, softer side of the artist, yet pistils and stamens are rapidly headed for mulch heaven.
Like the Greek mythological poet Orpheus, Dimitri Tolstoi tries to resist death by facing it head on. He artfully sticks his tongue out at it, mocking it while he makes us appreciate his unique sense of humor.
Still Life…Not Exactly runs through May 9th at the Art Rouge Gallery, 4 NW 36th St., loft 3; 303-448-2060.