The gracefulness and strength of lions, elephants, and gorillas have always been fascinating. But in the works by Mikhail Kirakosyan, we get closer to their fascinating personalities. The animals communicate directly with us. Their striking facial features reveal their genuine emotions. An immediate connection is built, along with the feeling that boundaries between man and animal are shifting. Kirakosyan’s series opens the door to an animal encounter with an intensity and intimacy like never before.
In 1872 the revolutionary naturalist, Charles Darwin, published a book about the facial expressions of humans and animals. The book revealed how often animal expressions resemble those of human expressions. At the time, these similarities were a sensation. Today, they’re the blueprint for Mikhail Kirakosyan's series We are like you. By applying Darwin’s concept to his art, the Russian photographer created profoundly expressive photos that mesmerize viewers.
The series was created at the Moscow Zoo, a site deeply steeped in history, established in 1864 under Tsar Alexander II. There, the photographer had a tremendous variety of subjects and ample opportunity to find subtle, yet distinctive, facial expressions. Kirakosyan made the most of zoo’s pandemic shutdown. Hours upon days were spent wandering the 21.5 acre zoo, in front of the cages and the open air enclosures. Along the way he developed a very personal connection with the animals that live there. When the gorillas were worried, Kirakosyan worried with them. When the elephant joyfully threw its trunk in the air, he rejoiced.
Kirakosyan studied architecture at the Moscow State University of Civil Engineering. As a student he was fascinated by the beautiful historic buildings he encountered, as well as the architectural drawings. This enthusiasm eventually developed into a great passion for art, particularly photography. Today he is an internationally renowned photographer who swears by his Leica S system and serves as president of the Leica International Photographers Club. His artworks are collected and exhibited all over the world, with publications that cover a vast range of topics.