14 December 2010, Viña del mar, Chile
You ‘re born in Russia in 1955, which preserved childhood memories as inspiration.
-My childhood years passed on the island Sakhalin and the only window to the reality that I had were children’s illustrated books. Illustrations became my fairy tale world which, although I have grown up, I do not want to depart with even today. Television was not available, the books had been difficult to get. I loved going to the library and view pictures in books. My child’s inner world was shaped by the illustrations. Sound of the sea was also an impetus for further fantasy and brought a spirit of distant countries with amazing animals and plants. I felt that the tale was somewhere there, somewhere close by. I still keep this child’s enthusiasm and expectations of a miracle inside of me.
What aspect of your life triggers or promotes creativity.
-The process of my art is based on the interest and surprise. What emotions would you experience if it landed on another planet? It is so interesting, how its people live, what they eat, how they move, what their architecture looks like, what kind of feelings they experience. Thus, creativity is like a journey into another world. Laws of art, composition, and skill are secondary. The world of my imagination is the driving force of creativity. I never force myself to work; maybe that’s why I do not have a lot of works. Creativity starts from the inside, and I materialize my inner world with the help of pencils and paints. When I start working, I can only see the big picture, but I do not see specific objects and their parts. I feel an energy substance, first, as if someone far away is calling me, and I follow the voice. Gradually everything becomes sharper, and I start seeing the outlines, looming objects and final images are slowly but steadily are being shaped. I always wonder what the outcome of this process will be, and what final quality of the picture I will get. And the more I listen to myself, my inner consciousness, the more truthfully the job is done, and the happier I become.
How did you start in the drawing, illustration, painting.
-Up to 20 years, I had not held a pencil in my hands. The place I lived had no special clubs and studios for painting. We did not even have an art teacher at school. A desire to draw was great, but everyone said that it was necessary to start drawing in early childhood. After graduation and military service at age of 20 I enrolled to study at the Architectural Department, where I first began going to these drawing lessons. Even the simplest drawing tasks such as: cones, balls, and plaster casts captured me completely, and I knew it was mine; I want to do this all my life. But the program activities in the graphic department were short and not enough for me ,so all my free time I spent in libraries, studying the history of art, etchings, paintings, drawings. There I for the first time I saw books with reproductions of Picasso, Modigliani, Matisse, books of Russian modernism. When I start to draw something, I always try to imagine a living organism. I painted the factory and was imagining it as a large animal that breathes through chimneys and produces smoke. But many colleagues and viewers did not understand my imagery at the time. From that time on I have kept the need to look at the world through images.
Death is this so hilarious in your work. How to solve this conflict internally.
-By nature I am an optimist and I try to relate all the things in my life and most of what I do with humor. Even serious things I try to pass in my mind through the prism of humor. Until about 30 years I was an atheist, like almost everyone in our country. I thought a lot about life and death, and read smart books (talking with like-minded people and arguing with opponents) and I have formed my attitude to the process of life and death. I believe in reincarnation, I believe that had been born before, otherwise I cannot explain the feeling of intuition, which I attribute to the experience of previous lives, as well as the phenomenon of deja vu. Death is in the culture of our civilization – it is an important and mysterious event. But our mentality is that we, people fear death, because we think that it’s over, that we will lose everything material. But I realized that death happens only to our physical body and the soul continues its way, that life is infinite. Everything became much clearer to me, and the meaning of death has acquired a different concept. I got the joy of life itself, the desire for self-improvement, and I began to fight with the biggest sin, selfishness.
You are associated with Arcimboldo, Bosch. In what way your work is connected with that vision and how you separate yourself exploring your own style.
-When I first saw the picture of Bosch, I had a feeling of being sucked into the funnel, which consumed me deeper and deeper. It seems to me that the time that Bosch lived at I understand and have a connection with it. I am very interested in the person of Bosch. I’ve always wondered how he solves the problems of morality in his paintings, and about his notions of good and evil. There exist not so many artists who have written multi-figured compositions. I am interested in his imagery, from where it came. It is interesting to me how he distributed the plane, how he applied color. His works are puzzles and stories for me. I like the stories in pictures. I also love telling stories myself. I’m trying to get away from didacticism that is present in Bosch’s works, and what helps me to deal with it is the sense of humor. And if Arcimboldo and his work have not been existent, then they would have to be invented. Because his method of the dual vision of the world is very close to mine. I try to imagine one object in the variety of forms. I follow the flight of imagination, and it allows me to extend the perception of an object.
In your work, the characters have a mythic presence; archetypal, ontological embody good or evil. How to influence the dispute of that duality in your personal vision.
-The concepts of good and evil are united. In every person, object, phenomenon exist good and evil, black and white, electrons and protons. Our world is arranged in such a way that things fight with each other and at the same time they co-exist and cannot be without each other. But nothing and no one will ever win the opposite, because then the balance will be upset. The moment of balance is always very short, and we mostly live swinging to the opposites. I am, therefore, interested in the topic of the internal conflict, and I try to express it in a concrete manner and imagery. Buddha talked about the middle way, I would also like to come to equilibrium in life, but I’m not perfect. It is hard to be in this calm state, from which even the slightest breeze can knock out. Equilibrium also means freeze, stop, but for it is important to have energy of constant movement, impulsiveness in my artworks. Maybe that’s why in my multi-figure compositions there is a lot of struggle between good and evil, life and death – the struggle of opposites.
If you had to talk to a child for your work. How do you introduce the fantasy world?
-All of us are children, just of different ages. We all want something surprising, we want wonder and magic. Fantasy world is a magical land where all dreams come true and we are both spectators and participants of this wonderful world. World where our wishes and miracles can come true. And this world is a good world, where one can fulfill their dreams. And when you materialize dreams into the world of music, or architecture, or literature or fine arts, this world becomes huge, and you can invite other people there.
Tell us about the dream.
-My dream is to live in a world where everybody is happy and sincere, where all are creative people, where dreams can be translated into reality, where the goodness comes out of dignity and not of weakness, where creativity breeds creativity. If a person is happy and positively charged, their dream will be bright and cheerful.