Interview with Alexander Arshansky
Alexander Arshanksky’s works convey messages through a vivid array of bright colors and spatial elements. Arshansky reveals his process and influences to Sparks Gallery:
Sparks Gallery asks: Describe your creative process when creating a new piece.
Arshansky: I turn on the music, I take a blank canvas and I let my hand free to do what it wants. I don’t think about liking it or making it likable. I just become an observer who watches how the hand glides over the canvas. Once sketched, I move to the color. When it comes to the painting part, I love to play and not follow any rules. Sometimes I randomly pull out tubes of paint of random colors that I will use. Sometimes, I only use a color a certain number of times in the artwork. Every piece is a product of game-like unpredictable process which brings about unexpected results. This is essential to keep my art making process exciting, I never know what the painting is going to look like until it is done. I trust the inner voice more that a color wheel. I don’t try to please the observer or match the furniture in the house. I have learned that the best work comes through when you don’t care about results, and have no boundaries and no self-doubts. I strongly believe that I am just an instrument of the universe and the less I think about appeasing others, the less I interfere with what the universe wants me to express.
I work as an interpreter, and a lot of painting takes place during the interpretation on a phone. I may be interpreting a medical or legal situation, sometimes dealing with tears, human drama, pain, and joy. My mind is completely engaged by the interpretation and the painting becomes almost automatic, retaining feelings and emotions from the call I had at the time. It also gives me a lot of time to do things – so the painting process is daily. When I stop painting, I start getting health problems and feel down.
Sparks: How long does it take you to complete an average size piece?
Arshansky: It is a difficult question to answer, because I work on several pieces at the same time, and finish six to ten paintings a month. There are larger pieces that I have been working for over a year and others I have completed in one day. I have produced almost 800 paintings in the last eight years since I started painting seriously.
Sparks: What cultural influences have you brought into your work from your Russian culture?
Arshansky: When I was eight years old, my mother managed to take me to a museum that organized a display of a large collection of Picasso’s work in Moscow. I remember moving into the room where I saw the cubist work of Picasso for the first time. I think it has changed me somehow; my mind was infected with a new vision of the world. Due to the harsh realities of life, I could not express my inner desire to paint in such way. As most artists, painting in realistic manner is a first step. Once you have a grasp of the technique, you can move outside of the box. This is exactly the path I went.
My arrival to the USA, to a sunny Tuscon Arizona, has liberated my artistic vision. In Russia, I was just trying to impress people with my artistic skills for attention and approval. But after my relocation, and then moving to Portugal for two years had liberated my vision. Now, I paint for joy and expression rather than attention or recognition.
Sparks: What inspires your palette?
Sparks: Do you have a favorite brand of paint?
Arshansky: As I have been painting, I noticed more expensive materials, like paints and canvases that produce much better, more lasting results. I primarily use Liquitex and Golden acrylic paints and mediums. I am very concerned about the archival aspect of my art and use a final varnish to coat each painting for the best color response and archival protection.
Sparks: Are you a day painter, or a night painter?
Arshansky: I am a morning person and it is my most productive time of day. Mostly a day painter, but have painted at all hours of the day in the past.
Sparks: Your work has been described as “Biomorphic Cubism.” Do you agree? And if so, tell me how this description related to your work?
Arshansky: I have to be original and one of a kind, or not at all. Some people follow the brand. I am strongly compelled to create my own and not be a follower. I have come up with this style, which integrated some aspects of cubism, but also has a more rounded, flexible and organic feel. Also, Cubism is known for breaking an object into a collage of views from multiple angles. My work is more about flow and continuity rather that separation of elements, but it resembles cubism and it was most certainly inspired by Picasso.
The description “Biomorphic Cubism” was a gift from an art critic. I decided that instead of trying to come with a name for my style, I will use a shortcut for now. However, as I’m trying to work in the original style, I don’t really have any better way to explain, classify, or quantify my art at this time. Perhaps a better name will come along.
Sparks: Tell us about the symbolism you use in your works. And, why do you choose these symbols?
Arshansky: It has been said by the wise, that this world is not about the laws and rules; it is about the signs and symbols. Symbols are also delivered randomly, and most of them are either numeric, being the universal language, or related to symbols and markings that can be found on people’s palms. I am also a palm reader; an avid scholar of palmistry, fascinated with hidden symbolism. All I can say, is that the person for whom those symbols mean something will recognize and know how to interpret them. Those who don’t will simply enjoy the painting without going deeper into its meaning. I don’t understand the symbols either, I just feel compelled by some inner drive to put them into each work.
Number 44 is my special number that is a power/energy signature for me. And, the number 444 is about spiritual connection to the universe and link with your guardian. These are very personal and part of the magic.
Sparks: Do you collect art? If so, what kind of work do you own?
Sparks: What artists have you drawn inspiration from?
Arshansky: The three artists who have inspired and affected my vision are Picasso, Salvador Dali, and Kandinsky.
Sparks: Did you, or do you have a mentor?
Arshansky: No, I am a self-trained artist.
Current available works by Alexander Arshansky are available here: http://sparksgallery.com/product-category/artist/alexander-arshansky