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AS IS | Ilya Zorkin


From Saint Petersburg, Russia

Based in Saint Petersburg, Russia

“In the beginning, the artist creates simple and poorly. Then complex and poorly. Then complex and good. And only then good and simple."

Anna. 125x75. 2020; Andrey. 60x45. 2019; Moscow.1698. 200x350. 2019.

A: What brought you into art?

I: I came to art at a mature age. Following the example of my father and grandfather from a very early age I was preparing for a military career, but when the time came to enter the military academy, I gave preference to mathematics and entered the Pedagogical University in the department of applied mathematics and computer science.

The training lasted for three years, during which I was suspended twice from studying. When it happened for the third time, I decided not to come back and try a completely new area.

One of the reasons was the book: "How to draw a portrait of a friend in 15 minutes", which I bought to keep myself busy at a boring job. Before that, I had never studied drawing, did not go to art school, and my knowledge of the art world was, frankly, none. Perhaps, because of this ignorance and certain impudence arising from it, I decided to try to enter the art department of the same pedagogical university.

I was very lucky when, according to the results of the entrance exams, I found that i was the last on the list of those who successfully passed the exam. I studied there for three years, during which I had to make up for the entire base, which I didn’t have. By this time, I had a dream - to study at the famous St. Petersburg Academy of Arts, where my friend and I went for openings to see the work of students. It seemed to us back at that time that it was the place where “Gods of drawing and painting were studying”.

I was expelled again and went to preparatory courses at the Academy of Arts. A year later I entered there and was the first on the list. After the fourth year, I was honored to have my first solo show in the halls of the Academy of Arts.

In 2019, I graduated with honors from the workshop of Professor Y.V. Kalyuta. My graduation picture on the historical theme "Moscow. 1698" was awarded the praise of the State Attestation Commission and the medal "For the best diploma work" of the Russian Academy of Arts.

Now I teach at the St. Petersburg Academy of Arts. I teach painting and composition at the Faculty of Painting.

A: What inspires you the most?

I: I love working from nature. Whether it is a natural landscape or work on a portrait. While working from the location, I feel free to focus on color, its complexity, and depth, on the variety of touches, through the quivering or quirkiness of a graphic line. In my work from nature, I am not looking for answers to the complex questions of life - I concentrate on the manifestations of life itself, on admiring it and glorifying its beauty and unpredictability.

At the same time, I try to combine the two principles of creativity: harmonious and organic artistry and analytical thinking, as a fact of artistic and scientific knowledge.

Perhaps, that is why my work is divided into two directions: a living natural portrait and landscape, in which I can fully show artistry, and a historical painting, which I love and often go back to. At the same time I stay connected with the great traditions of our Fine art school, and also touch on some everyday topics that worries me.

We can always find answers to the questions of the present in the history. Yet, the historical picture in the 21st century in many respects no longer carries the applied educational and enlightening function that it carried before. In the age of technology, television, and the Internet, cinema performs this function much more accessible and understandable for the viewer. Painting takes on a completely different meaning. This is an artistic interpretation through which the author reveals his own view of historical events, parallels with the present, and the acquaintance of the viewer with the author through his works.

A: Do you have any specific rituals while working (creating)?

I: Before work I usually drink one or two cups of coffee and mentally make a plan for today. If I start a new job, then I need to present the result for which I will strive. You need to prepare the space, squeeze out the colors and clear your thoughts: sit in silence for a while and prepare yourself emotionally. I think that the future work should be treated with the respect.

A: What would you recommend to someone new to art (an artist or just an admirer), what to begin with?

I: I would advise you to be open to different trends in art, not be afraid to open up to the world yourself, share your creativity, and learn from contemporary artists and old masters. I believe that a young artist should not be afraid of comparisons with the great masters of the past; in principle, he should not feel that he is competitive.

The great predecessors gave us incredible wealth, which we inherited. So to turn to this wealth, to use it for oneself and to transform it is the duty of the modern artist. Yet - do not blindly copy, but fill with new meanings.

A: Your top 3 adjectives related to art?

I: Sincere, subtle, and beautiful

A: The best angle to look at art is from ...?

I: From within. The art world is wonderful.

A: The perfect phrase to start any conversation about art is: ...?

I: Manet or Monet?

A: Must-read books to help us talk about art (or do we even need them)?

I: It is difficult to answer unambiguously. There are no specific required books. Art is primarily about feelings. Yet, knowledge cannot be denied.

A: If you could change one thing in the art world - what would it be?

I: Nothing. The art world reflects society and therefore It's limited.

A: Please, share your favorite quote (not necessarily related to art)

I: “In the beginning, the artist creates simple and poorly. Then complex and poorly.

Then complex and good. And only then good and simple."

Ilya Repin

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