St. Petersburg photographer Alexey Titarenko (b.1962) is best known for his moody interpretations of older urban landscapes temporarily animated by ghost-like inhabitants passing through in daily life. A remarkable series from his hometown just after the fall of the Soviet Union in the 1990s signaled the strength of Titarenko's artisistic and soulful vision, and he quickly became recognized as an important photographer to watch.

At a recent solo-exhibition at the Nailya Alexander Gallery in New York City he presented an all-new series called "Havana Sketches" made in Cuba during 2003 and 2006. Titarenko believes that "the artist's most important goal is to recreate through his art those aspects of the profoundly personal that form the unique essence of the individual and to impart to it universal forms that are visible both to himself and to others."

Working over the course of many years on the theme of his beloved St. Petersburg, he gradually understood that part of the creative joy he feels in his work comes not only from the city's special character and atmosphere, but also from the memory it preserves of his childhood and youth.

The city's distinct presence "entered his personality and became a part of his inner world." Thus, entirely independent of his will and consciousness, Titarenko has instinctively tried to find this ?other half? in each new place of travel, but only rarely feels inspiration.

This happened during his first trip to Havana in 2003. As he describes: "I was struck by a wave of unexpected joy — of unconscious, all-encompassing joy — that surged from somewhere deep inside me. I felt as if I had flown back in time at least twenty years before: old fashioned models of cars passing by, modestly dressed people, stunning architecture in dilapidated physical condition, pioneers merrily marching across the road."

He was mesmerized by the city's atmosphere that evoked vivid memories of his youth in St. Petersburg. He felt its presence from the first moment he perceived it and grasped it with all his senses.

— Jim Casper

You can see some of Alexey Titarenko's earlier work, and hear him discuss his art, here, in a 2004 audio interview for Lens Culture.