He calls himself Alexander Radtke. I believe he got this name owing to a barter with a friend called Radtke. When I got to know him, his tranquil appearance made him the center of the room, at least for those who took their time to observe. He did not look very Russian, it seemed like he had shed it off along with the inconvenient and unpronounceable family name. I rather thought about Southern Europe, but that did not work well, because his eyes flickered more rapidly than the eyes of Tarkowskis’ Iwan.
With a fervent seriousness, he pursued his target to become a painter despite doing something completely different during his early life. For two or three years with the help of a student from the art academy he taught himself how to draw and paint with oil and naturally surpassed his mentor soon. On facebook, the Russian as well as the American one, he displayed the development of his pictures carefully and – what can I say – on his portraits too was that suspicious flickering around the eyes. Maybe he had not yet his own distinct style but a deep imagination for good art. I name his idols: Francis Bacon, Lucian Freud, Mark Rothko und Amedeo Modigliani.
He had no trust in Russian artists and in literature Pushkin was declared his archenemy. Dostoevsky and Gogol were accepted, but when I started to praise Michail Soschtschenko and Danil Charms he rippled his forehead sceptically. In reverse I could never entirely understand his obsession with the Poppy Z. Brite and Marquis de Sade. Sade, especially, was read by him like others read the Bible – the bad in human nature keenly attracted this innocent boy from the midsize Siberian town Yekaterinburg .
Of course he was painting in the night time. He drank strong Darjeeling with milk and sugar. He was a chain smoker, lanky, tattooed with mysterious symbols and would move like a panther. On long walks he discovered Berlin and preferably roamed over the deserted museum island at dawn rather than joining “Sodom and Gomorra in Berghain”. As friends he chose soul mates from melancholic bands like Blue October or My Own Private Alaska, and wanted to meet living idols like Gerhard Richter or David Lynch to convince them of his art.
In two days Alexander Radtke is flying back to Russia. He hopes for an artist visa in March to be present on his first solo exhibitions in Berlin: In the studio of his artist friend Innokenti Baranov and at Somos Gallery.