Painter Aleksey Chizov: Manifesto of Self-Growth
Aleksey Chizhov, one of Russia’s finest emerging artists, presents his new collection of paintings “Les Paradis Naturels” in Erarta Galleries London. In his paintings, Chizhov uses the symbol of poppies as a metaphorical escamotage to encapsulate the struggle evident in our society – whether to run away and hide from one's problems, or to face them. “Les Paradis Naturels” (Natural Paradises) was chosen as the title for Aleksey Chizhov’s exhibition, as his work is a true manifesto inviting us to pursue an emotional and cognitive journey of self-development.With the exhibition approaching, RussianMind talked to Alexey Chizhov about his insight of the world:
RM: What character traits are necessary to establish yourself as an artist? Is it about you working hard? Or about a birth given talent?
AC: I think the most important thing is desire. It is the strength and extent of an individual’s desire which define what sort of artist you want to become. For a classical artist like me the drawing/illustration is needed. It is a fundamental skill, which you have to make perfect, as it develops the necessary classic flair and extends your artistic eye.
RM: When did you gain general acceptance?
AC: It seems to me that it is too early to talk about general recognition.
RM: In your illustrations you use the symbol of opium as a metaphor of society “painful spots”. Could you tell us more about that?
AC: Obviously, the image of the notched poppy emphasises one of society’s sores. In the meantime, it represents my childhood memories. This flower grew in my grandmother’s garden in the North Caucasus. It was a Christmas poppy. Many people were cultivating it for religious purposes, for instance, to sanctify it in church on the "Saviour" Day. I was drawing it often in my childhood. Suddenly, someone knocked on our door, begged to sell the bushes and tucked money into our pockets. They were drug addicts. Since then, my grandmother has not sowed it. On the one hand, it was a funny and a partly terrifying situation. On the other, it was a sad incident and it is even possible to talk here about the substitution of sacral functions.
RM: With the help of your illustrations, you call society to the emotional development and growth. Do you think our modern society is emotionally poor?
AC: I believe that any art can bring a sensual and emotional perception to society in one way or another. I hope my art also contributes somehow to this. I have a suspicion that this sensual unspeakable residue in paintings or sculptures is the quintessence of art or percept, according to Deleuze. Talking about modern society, I do not think it is devoid of emotions. I suggest that it is emotionally rougher. That is why, it is necessary to pay more attention to the paintings as art is far more subtle than films or photography, and therefore, can bring out more complex feelings.
RM: There are symbols of Greek mythology in your works. Does antiquity inspire you?
AC: Yes, a lot. During my student years Plato's dialogue called The Feast, which describes the incarnation of Eros as the organising principle of the universe from his lowest manifestations to the highest, really impressed me. The Ancient Greek myths that I read in my childhood, Ovid’s Metamorphoses I read later and my favourite poet Brodsky - all turned to antiquity, and here Freud's reception should be also stressed. It is only literature. However, it is also worth mentioning the classic art, which I had absorbed in my childhood while wandering in the halls of the Hermitage. It is an experience, which you cannot forget and discard. As for the Renaissance epoch, all European art made their start from it and no radical modernist trends can strike through it. In fact, it is an ideal of Freud. At the same time, an interesting example of a contrary dialogue is the recent Gormley exhibition at the Hermitage.
RM: And where do you derive ideas for your paintings?
AC: Ideas come by themselves. I do not draw them and do not keep track of them, they just capture me. I can say that I have lots of sources for my ideas.
RM: What are you planning to devote yourself to in the near future?
AC: I usually work on several paintings at the same time. All of them replace each other perfectly .There is a small project with the installation, but it is too early to talk about it. In general, I do not think about the projects in general. For me, a picture is a separate project, which is the most valuable thing. So, I will continue to work in this direction.
“Les Paradis Naturels” exhibition takes place from 24 February to 5 April at Erarta Galleries.
Address: 8 Berkeley Street, London W1J 8DN