I’ve been painting for as long as I can remember myself. From age three.
A sun like a sea urchin, a sinusoidal of water, fearsome sharks and dashing dolphins. Felt-tip pens and pencils. My art teacher once told me: “Don’t waste your talent”. I didn’t understand quite well what she ment but I remembered those words, and since then I’ve been hearing them sometimes always said with different intonations.
I was born in Erevan, the capital of Armenia. Snowy mountains of Ararat embraced the town, the Sevan lake was glowing like a blue crystal among high ridges and seething rivers. This period of time - my childhood - ended in 1990 when my family moved to the town named Kalinin. There were no mountains there, only a river – narrow and shallow – only farther down the current it would become the world famous great Russian river Volga. The town itself was choking from provincial sultriness.
I became a student of the Tver (Kalinin was renamed into Tver after the collapse of the Soviet Union) State University with a major in economics. It took me three years to become disappointed in economics, so I left the Untiversity and under the rules of compulsory draft ended up in the military. Army for good and all persuaded me that a man is born to create, and after two years of military service I managed to get accepted in the Tver Art School. It was hard: inspite of the fact that I found a way to paint in oil in the army (I was using sunflower oil that I “borrowed” from the kitchen as the solvent), I wasn’t much aware of the academic rules. My exam drawing appeared to be too small and in order to involve the entire space of the provided piece of paper I had to draw several nails protruding from the opposite wall, and a power outlet. What composition in academic sense meant I had to understand in course of the exams. And finally I was accepted there and received a good training. Art was taught as an exact science there – they explained plastic anatomy, rules of perspective and composition, and coloring to us.
Unfortunately when I was attending the Art school my country was shaken by some serious though ambiguous political events. Every young man among us considered himself a revolutionist and a pioneer. We were making fun of old professors. I regretted many times in my life that I hadn’t paid enough attention to their advices. Back then I was in love with Dali and Dutch Golden Age artists, and there was no contradiction in that – Spanish surrealism was living through the heritage of Vermeer Delft; such connections have been weaving the tissue of art for ages like linen threads weave the tissue of canvas. Contradiction though appeared when we were studying social realism. It promised future where everything would become simple and clear - future that never came.
Studies took all my time. Having come home from the Art School I used to lock myself at my apartment and was studying there alone. Those four years of hard work and dedication allowed me to get accepted easily to Saint Petersburg Art and Industry Academy.
There was very little green in Saint Petersburg but plenty of sky and water. The city, being absolutely flat, was pierced by architectural spires to which perspectives of facades were flowing. Perhaps, Saint Petersburg is the most beautiful city I had a chance to live in.
In Saint Petersburg Academy of Industry and Art I’ve chosen a major in environmental design. There, I thought, I would acquire new skills to see things. And really - our professors, sometimes using irrational methods, introduced us to potency of light and space, to volume interactions in architecture, and to close connections architecture had with nature.
We painted with glue paints during our classes. Acrylic paint, gouache, and tempera became my materials, not favorite ones but very useful – thanks to them I have acquired priceless experience - which I discovered later, when I returned to oil paints.
For quite a long time I’ve been working as an interior designer for there was no demand for environmental design in Saint Petersburg. I concentrated mainly on designing social space – restaurants, bars, hotels and offices. I haven’t been touching paints and brushes for several years. But art life was very active around me – modern artists, strict academicians, sculptors and photographers. It was hard to ignore it. But it was even harder to find my own language. My trip back to etudes was long and hard, my hands didn’t comply with my commands, and the paints became sort of unfamiliar and alien. Hardly realized but continuous search for something which would connect my own realistic view to the complicated feeling of constant change of the world around me has begun.
The city on the Neva river bestowed me with my love. To be with her I crossed the ocean which took me more than ten years. In America I found rivers and mountains of Oregon, so familiar to me from my childhood, and I calmed down a little.
In “War and Peace” there’s a scene where Andrei Bolkonsky is listening to Natasha Rostova singing. Lev Tolstoi writes: “He felt both happy and sad. He had absolutely nothing to cry about, but he was ready to cry. About what? About past love? About his disappointments? About his hopes for future? Yes and no. The main thing he wanted to cry about was a suddenly realized contrast between something infinitely great and undefined that lived inside him and something narrow and physical that he was himself”.
It’s impossible to define what art gives to a man in an easier or deeper way.
(Georgij Adamovich. Commentaries).