Most relevant in art for me is that the art does not have
borders. Today art is not limited to anything: to either form, subject
or contents. From my point of view, the greatest achievement of art of
the ïï century is that its borders have extended up to the horizon. The
width of the horizon depends only on the individual. You may be standing
on a mountain of Everest and see the horizon of hundreds of kilometres,
and passionately longing for more and more space. Or, you may be sitting
in a hole and see the horizon of 3 meters, being pleased that you possess
at least that much, because it could be even worse. There is no saying,
whose position is better, more expedient, more reasonable. Simply it happened
I do not assert, that my position is better then the other ones. No, it
simply is my position, my philosophy. Once I heard a story about a rabbi,
named Dzussi. He said: " When I die, the God will not ask me, why I was
not Aristotle; he will ask, why I was not Dzussi". I want to be myself
and consider, that such a desire is the most important for any artist.
There is a certain sparkle, which does not die away in an artist, does
not allow him to change his trade. A true artist cannot help being an
artist. He cannot be denied creativity by either poverty, or wealth. A
true artist is ready to do anything for the sake of art. It is for the
sake of art that he can keep living in a cellar, in poverty; for the sake
art he may earn money, learn languages, turn down mountains in order to
be engaged and attain the highest artistic level. That is, you may not
be engaged in art to earn money, but vice versa, you may earn money to
be able to create your own art.
The professionalism, which comes with years, educational background and
maturity are laid on an artist, like layers of pavement. And he may make
the way through this pavement, academic training and everyday routine,
if he has this fire burning, this thrill, like a child before a white
sheet of paper. This white sheet magic, it may mean anything you like,
- space, or a cave. The image may be cheerful, it may be sad. It pulls
to itself, like a drug.
I once heard Einstein saying that everything he attained became possible
because he was "slow": all people had grown up, and he hadn't. Having
become an adult person, he kept on asking the same childish questions.
Due to this he achieved something. It is so very important for an artist,
as well as any other creative person, to have this childish feeling. When
people become grown up, they are deprived of this capability to beat out
some flash of fire from this feeling. The largest tragedy for an artist
is to grow up and lose this hiding place, this shelter from reality.
Shelter from reality
Since in the former USSR it was often literature
that was such a shelter from reality, I, as an offspring of society, was
very "literary minded". Those, who took a fancy to books in their childhood,
go on living like this. This "literary-mindedness" remains with you up
till the end of your life, and consequently this desire to introduce some
literary element directly into my artistic creative process is one of
my personal features.
Generally speaking, it is gratifying mission of an artist, to be engaged
in the analysis of his own philosophy,and thus express himself. Self-expression
may be everything, anything - construction of air balloons, execution
of sentences, or earning money. There are certain things, which can't
be deeply reflected upon, because one is held up by other things. There
exist artists to ponder upon these problems. Or at least it's by this
that they often justify their existence. They give one a chance to see
during a break for rest or often instead of these minutes of rest (you
see, a break for rest is often simply a change of activities), to see
some anxiously or, on the contrary, cheerfully constructed, philosophical
concept, which, with all its inconsistency, is intended to verify life,
widen its borders. An artist and art are necessary, first of all, for
people, who are not engaged in arts. These people are the most sincere
and grateful spectators. Ideally the creativity of an artist is a length
of distance, on which the scale of life of everybody, who sees his works,
We may observe interesting things with art. As soon as some vanguard music
punches the road, it is new, classy, it is similar to a fresh gasp of
air. Eventually it's put on the rails of recognition, and, what used to
be a fresh gasp of air, becomes beaten track or business. It is normal,
because there will come another new group from the underground. Such is
It is just the same with fine arts. Once a well defined system of saloon
art was broken through by modernists. But time will come, when modernists,
similar to conventional saloon art, will be pierced through by the spray
of a new concept, which, in due course will grow old, become obsolete,
restricted. And then something new "will fly up", take off, pushing back
out-dated philosophies, asserting its right for coexisting with them.
In childhood I used to be terribly in love with books. And if you look
at my works in general, you will see, that initially I was an illustrator.
But it was always interesting for me to invent my own stories, and I always
felt a lack of space in my illustrational domain. I drew my own stories,
which were wider than the book stuff itself. I felt that I wasn't expressing
myself fully, and it irritated and stimulated me. Once, having done some
story illustrating, I scored a bulk of miscellaneous prizes and competitions
and understood, that it was not exactly mine. I felt a lack of space,
I was throttled down by this narrowness; I wanted something more. Until
at last out of these creative excruciatings there appeared a certain manner.
Anything can be stuff for art: pigeons, rocks, clay,
"coca - cola" tins, politics or sex. The way we look at it can also be
artistic. The art has been, is and will be wider than what is exhibited
in galleries and what may occur to us. Art is there, where it is made.
Each artist has his technology, which responds to his inner "tuning in".
For me it is illustrative graphic drawing. It is much more convenient
to work on paper, because the range of texture on paper carries me away
more, than the things made by oil on canvas. I combine water colour technique,
with its lightness, transparency, calmness of colour, and bright soft
pencils. These two materials shade and underline one another. Such technique
is at one and the same time simple for perception, though quite complicated
in the process of manufacturing. The massif coated with a water colour
is one texture, and I only get a legibly pencilled contour to underline
a certain element.
I combine water colour texture, pencil, gouache and indian ink. I do not
want to limit myself to one technique, one method.
If you look at my pictures, you'll notice, that in each of them some exotic
or completely absurd action is taking place. And at the same time, characters
remain completely quiet. They imperturbably execute monotonic daily actions,
live their life, without realising the absurdity of the things around
For example, a little man on a soaring piano is hitting the keys. He is
not surprised with the situation. A yard keeper, who is sweeping away
some "beads" from behind some strange creatures... All these people are
held by some daily routine activity, despite its exotic character. This
dissonance is only apparent. In real life everything is the same. We live
in a completely absurd world, but accept it as normal, whereas things,
which we consider normal, may be completely absurd.
A house is flying away to the skies on an air balloon. Apparently, one
system is leaving another system, and there should be some pressure. But
the feature of a man is to remain human. He cannot get anywhere from everyday
household activities. A woman is cleaning the house, she is shaking out
a blanket. A fisherman is fishing, and children are starting up miniature
I always accepted the art of my native land in the Soviet Union, as narrative
art beginning with the ancient Russian icon and finishing with peredvizniki
and socialist realism. It almost always was an art of concrete, narrative,
almost literary form. And the art of the protest, when samizdat and semisamizdat
were in honour even among those living in comparative consent with the
system, was completely based on association, on nuance. At least it remained
like this in my perception.
Having come to the West with this background, I simply tried to arrange
two things - illistrativeness and polygenre philosophy. In my comprehension
the world has been united; the borders have vanished. If earlier it was
split into two distinct parts, now the borders disappear altogether. And
not only ideological, geographic ones - they disappear at the level of
philosophy and attitude to art. The reasonings about what may be a subject
for art remained in the past. Today everything may be a subject for art,
everything may be stuff. I was lucky to have been living in incompatible
systems, and it seemed, that the world as a whole remained harmonic independent
of systems and their contradictions. The existing harmony of the universe
transforms contradictions into harmony. And only a human creature remains
identical in any system and according to his capabilities tries to illustrate
a monotonous text of everyday routine life by philosophy.
To illustrate by philosophy
My creative concept consists in doing easel drawing
of high illustrative quality. On the one hand it is based on my personal
and deep associations and impressions from my childhood. On the other
- on the basis of educational background: experience and amount of books
and stories heard.
So about me one may write only counter-art articles. My creative method
is a sort of anti-illustration, a picture, which should be illustrated
in its turn by another story. In each of my works, I express my point
of view on the subject, my complicated or simple philosophy. Objects in
my pictures are by no means accidental. They are necessarily linked with
other things or with other pictures.
In some works there is practically nothing personal. In others the personal
prevails. Such pictures I'd rather not explain at all.
This book is constructed in such a manner that the pictures, in which
my personal attitude to some events is expressive enough, are commented
on rather widely. My philosophy is spoken out completely there. In other
pictures there is minimum of explanations. In some of them none at all.
There are pictures the personal situation of which I wouldn't like to
bring out to general discussion at all. Try to treat them, as children
treat books with colouring pictures for your imagination.
"Colouring pictures" for the imagination
Basically, as any artist, I am a provocateur. I
provoke the viewer in a specific, intrinsic way. I am provocateur Poyarkov,
and I provoke you in my specific, Poyarkov's manner. Do you like my instigating?
Then you are my spectator. If my instigating is not pleasant to you -
then you are the spectator of another artist. Artists and their creative
concepts can not be better or worse; they are simply different. I do not
think, that art can unconditionally be sectioned into high, low, average,
half-average, semisweet, strong or refined. It may be "his" or "not" for
each person; he likes it or he doesn't; it touches or it does not touch.
One may even sell vacuum at the price of depth. But, all the same even
if it looks better or may smell more deliciously or shine brighter, it
possibly won't touch you with pseudo-scientific terminology. It won't
touch you the way "your" art, the one that comforts you, would touch.
I was always interested in the reaction of spectators to my pictures:
who are they, why do they like my works, what do they see in them, how
do they explain them for themselves? There was a case, when a person who
purchased my picture "Good luck"! (it was in America, at an exhibition),
saw in it an absolutely different meaning from mine. He came with no intention
to buy anything, but this picture attracted him, so that he said: "my
God, it is Ode to emigration! " He told me his story and coloured my images
by his imagination in his own way, as though he had built up a brand new
city from the same bricks. Or, for example, my work "Birthday "... Once
in America one of the versions of this picture was bought by a woman,
many of whose parents, grand parents and great grand parents were musicians.
When she sow this work, she said: "My god, But it is MY life, it is MY
house within the period of 50 years". She had been standing in front of
the picture for 1.5 hours shaken: so many of the things depicted were
similar to some of her associations. Her words: "It is a picture, I had
been dreaming to buy all my life, it has got on me... " It seemed, that
her associations in some ways were more interesting than mine, her explanations
- in a way were deeper.
I am convinced, that human dreams are sure to come true; it is a normal
course of the world development. It is natural for a man to be happy and
feel self realised. What I had been dreaming of in my childhood came true
over a certain period of time. If one applies some efforts, everything
will necessarily come true. It in a universal happy destiny of workaholics
- their dreams almost always come true.
I always considered, that too serious an attitude of an artist to himself
and to life in general is pointless. It is silly. All of us will die sooner
or later, and the majority of us will die more or less painfully, but
we simply (and it is absolutely natural) do not think of it. We know it,
but we do not live with this. It is a surprising capacity of a person
to know and not notice, or to know and notice. We choose to ourselves
our necessary balance. When a person takes over some effort and boldness
to establish his own balance of contradictions, he'll be able to live
in harmony. He may be happy only on this condition.
Each artist has a moment, when he gains some professional skills and launches
into an orbit, like a spacecraft. Here he sees the end of the earth gravity,
and before him is huge space. This is a marvellous, intoxicating feeling,
which, probably, can't be compared to narcotics, alcohol, or anything
else. If the conductor needs the whole orchestra, the artist only needs
his hands, material, a rectangle, a circle or triangle of clean (not necessarily)
paper (possibly not paper). Today an artist may make art of anything,
he may create his own system of symbols
System of symbols
Those who are familiar with the history of medieval
arts know that in those times fine arts were full of nonrandomness. There
was a certain understandable system of symbols. People saw behind it something
bigger than a subject itself. For example, a pelican was well-known for
his self-sacrificing. People believed, that he fed the nestlings with
his own intestines.
Since my childhood I have always been interested in the language of Aesop.
I was always attracted by allegory and all that is hidden between the
I have created a system of symbols. For example, for me a fish, a well-known
symbol of life, also means a woman. Sinuous branches of arbours - entangled
circumstances. Chess symbolises both medieval formula of an alchemist
and a schedule of a stock broker. We constantly live in a system, we are
influenced by a huge member of factors, and we are obliged to balance
them. Basically, a game of chess is the essence of our life. Pawns represent
daily, absolutely simple actions (for example, fuelling your car). Chess
men represent more complicated operations. There are more complicated
chessmen and less complicated ones, as in real life, there are very complicated
problems and less complicated ones. Our everyday problems are very similar
to a rook which goes only on a straight line, and a bishop which moves
diagonally. But except our actions, there are also inevitable factors
- say, it rains, or the seasons change. In life everything is divided
into things that may be changed, and things we cannot change. It is depicted
in my pictures, where supper with candle lights is superior to a game
of chess. However complicated are the calculations one may be doing there
still is an element of chance. The charm of life is that there is always
something happening all of a sudden. And this suddenness can altogether
destroy what you have planned before. The word, which explains the sense
of life at its fullest is - "suddenly".
I often return to the subjects of my previous pictures. It is simply because
with time I see them from a completely new angle of view. It is interesting
for me to prolong this subject, to toss dice-symbols in a different way.
If one has a desire to exercise in awakening in oneself some associations
(and a person, whatever he is engaged in, is always attracted by creativity),
he may invent his explanations of my works. A spectator may invent his
own finished story. I produce the basis, on which one may construct his
own "building". And then it is possible, if one wants, to have a look
at my text, to compare, whether our points of view converge and are similar
or the systems of symbols are different, and we co-feel a certain balance