When was the first time I felt myself like an artist? Or like being an artist?

What was the season then? Probably it was autumn, and the city of St. Petersburg was wet with endless rain. At the time I was then studying at Art College and in library where I looked many times at beautifully published books of Dali???s gorgeous work in the library. Although I loved the paintings, I thought to myself that it would be very stupid to copy him. Before that, in this head of mine, there were mainly thoughts of women and how I might behave in their presence. Suddenly, I had conceived of another? work, deeper and more enduring: the complex task of finding and perfecting my own form of self-expression. About love, of course, about all of the peculiar sides of this feeling, which continuesfacets of this feeling, which - to this day - continue to this day to command (capture?) my attention. The love of ordinary people, their sensuality in times when they are feeling strong or weak, cruel or mindlessly tender, when they are crying, when they are spying on each other, trying to find in each other???s lives the most indecently, secretive, shameful private things.

It was a strange time in Russia. There were all these forbidding stupidities. Oversized scenes of determined factory workers, groupings of framers celebrating the harvest, portraits of party leaders ??? these were fit subjects for painting. There was scanty place for the kind of art that most interested me most. The private lives of men and women could not be shown. I decided that I would nevertheless explore sexual themes, stories of passion, hopes and disappointment. Even if my work wasere labeled pornography, I would still paint that way. Eroticism would be present in my paintings, as it seemed to be necessary. All of this came to me, on a rainy day, in the library.

I have always painted with oil, and in search of technique I have studied the old European masters. From them I have learned from them form and shading, proportion and composition, but I have never tried to imitate any of them. When I was younger it was not always easy. However, these days I do not think of them much these days (often???). For the The last twenty-five years I have been in constantly changeing. If there is a pattern to my development, it is to increasingly focus on a theme, less social, less active, moreand more psychological. I believe that I am reaching more and more deeply into the innermost working (core?) of my characters. To me, this is endlessly interesting. As always, I continue to search for the most precise means, most economical and direct, to express my ideas? embodied in a painting. I am my own most strict judge and censor. I remorselessly destroy paintings that do not work.

For the last ten years I have livesd in the United States; and during this time I have made more than 200 paintings. This period has been the most productive in my life. Theatrically dressed dwarfs and their sex-mates populate my canvases. Carnival processions are followed by complex love rituals performed by partners tired of each other. My beloved dirigibles burn falling onto the land that created them; pilots and incidental bystanders are caught up in the carnage and excitement. Butchers and toreadors hold their wives and children, in their blunt hands. Biblical personages and blindfolded women surrender to the sacrificial gesture, unselfconsciously. There is also often war, the compelling cruelty of it, the declining value of life that equalizes the innocent and guilty.

Often I often wonder about people who buy my paintings. These are very different people and they tell me they like different things in my work. Often they cannot really say. Usually, they ask me what I intended in a painting; and this is not hard for me. Each of the paintings tells a story that first comes to me as a joke, an anecdote, and this is simple to relate. The work on canvas itself is but the most appropriate illustrative solution, at best simple and obvious. I guess they are drawn first by the sense of emotional disturbance which may . This can bring them to the heart of the matter: the transformation of energy, which - like a jolt - rivets the attention, causing the viewer to scrutinize the depth and surface of the work, to call fully to mind the details of the action. I can see it in their faces if the transformation is successful or not. in his or her face if this transformation is or is not successful. I tell viewers at an exhibition that I first dream my paintings. (thiswhich is often true, but not always into the complete form ??? sometimes just a cockeyed idea). Although he sees and understands me, and tries to help me, his all too literal minded acolyte. So, maybe I am just a pretender, not an original artist.

During my the years I lived in Russia, after art collegeArt College and further studiesy at the State Institute of Theater, Music and Cinematography, I worked principally as a theatrical design artist, conceiving the ???look??? of a play performance, directing costume, set and lighting specialists. I never imagined that I could make a living by painting. Theater took all my time and . I was seriously in love with it. , aAnd now I miss it. My paintings partly remind me of theatrical plays. This now amuses me and . Tthus I place characters and objects in my paintings as in the theater, flat and foreshortened.

If I must, I would describe my work as magical Realism. Here, in the world of dark tales and unfinished dreams, constantly feeling the presence of guardian angels that cover me with shadows from their rigid wings, I am trying to remain myself. I am glad to feel that others are interested in me, even that they might even need me.

What happiness to be an artist.

... Page 4 is missing.????

My dream, my eternal guardian, shelter me in shadow, and let come back to me now what I have seen as a child come back to me now.

In vast eternal darkness there is shining dust. Someone gifted with eternity blows from it, like bubbles, universal spheres charged with meaning, sensation, portent and possibility. In the limitless darkness there is a little boy, a remote observer, and it is I, and I am helpless and cant???t to interfere. The bubbles swell into two enormous worlds, full of stars and light and noise, and I see that an invisible string connectsing them. They are drawn ever nearer to each other by that connection. The gigantic spheres are full of planets, people, birds and animals. Once they collide, in a silent crash within that eternal blackness, an end will come to everything. I awake terrified as if struck a harsh blow???

Again in the dark I am in an elevator falling very rapidly. The blinking display shows the first floor but still the elevator descends. Light seeps into the elevator cabr, and then, beyond a certain level, everything becomes transparent. Around the cablift walls are the mechanical workings of the world, terrible Cyclopes rung with jellied tubes of flowing lights and noises. The elevator motion subsides, . Tthe corners of the cab floor sink. A pond of mercury forms under me and growsboils up into a sphere. My feet slide and falter and I know that I will fall. In my anxiety I see myself reflected, and I am growing wings, gray and metallic. My first flap makes a starting sound. I think:, ???What a sweet way to avoid a fall, these lovely lifting wings.??? Then I am floating over a city emerging from the ocean. Time is suspended. Through the apartment windows ??? I see faces of people making love. A man holding a surgical knife high in his hand watches himself in the mirror, ready as his arm??? Again, I awake in fear and relief.

I am alone in a museum, at an amazing exhibition by an artist I have never seen before. The unusual themes of his paintings are mesmerizing. In the many works recurs one figure being isolated within a sphere of his own imagination.. This unbounded imaginary space is filled with the hermit???s erotic vision. He is an accomplished seducer, master, confessor, conqueror. His women come from all over the world. For them Hhe invents for them exquisite tortures, tests, extraordinary gestures of desire and submission, and a desperate sense of longing. They await his attention, his touch that brings them, at last, to life. And then, they fade, losing their vitality. He imagines yet other women, formed from light and noise. Thus continues the endless game of love.
I like these paintings very much, and envy the artist, as if I, too, sought to come to life. As ashamed as I am of the impulse, I plan to steal some of his ideas. I think that, since this is a dream, no one will blame me for it.

I am ready to follow you, my friend, my dream, my creator.