Alexander Volkov will unveil new work a Pando Fine Art
Gallery will host three receptions
Visual artist Alexander Volkov is looking forward to his new exhibit that will open at Pando Fine Art this week.
The oil painter, who was born in Russia, said there is one painting in particular he is excited to unveil during the opening reception on Friday, Feb. 24.
“It’s called ‘Moonlight in Empty Rooms,’” Volkov announced during a Park Record interview from his home in Frenchtown, New Jersey. “We planned to have five or six paintings in the show, but two have already been sold, which isn’t a bad thing to happen.
But I just finished this one and I feel it’s one of my best. It’s different than my usual output.”
The title is deliberately similar to Edward Hopper’s “Sun in an Empty Room,” a piece that shows the highlights and shadows created by indirect sunlight that shines through a window, Volkov said.
“I consider Hopper one of my teachers, and in a way, this painting is my tribute to what I learned from him,” he said. “Through the two windows, you see far away sea and clouds, and the vision of the moonlight is just the light streaking across the floor from the windows from a hidden source.”
While realist painter Hopper is one of Volkov’s influences stylistically, impressionist artists turned Volkov on to visual art when he was a child growing up in Russia
“I was born and raised in Leningrad, which is now St. Petersburg, and living in the Soviet Union then and there was a whole different and drab experience than it is today,” Volkov said. “I think [us] kids growing up in that strange environment needed to find a way out from that mundane existence.”
Some of Volkov’s friends found escape through books and music. Others, like him discovered art.
“The way it started was when I was around 14,” he said. “I went to an English school. I was very lucky because I learned to speak English.”
The school was also an oasis of culture and took students to exhibits at the Hermitage Museum.
“It took us to a show of Western art that was on exhibit during the time when the relationship between the East and West was warming up,” Volkov said.
The exhibit featured the works of British impressionistic painter William Turner, on loan from the Tate Gallery in London.
One work, “The Fighting Temeraire Tugged to Her Last Berth to be Broken Up” hit Volkov like a torpedo.
“It’s a painting of a tugboat pushing a big battleship that was famous for the Battle of Trafalgar to its final resting place,” Volkov said. “It is a beautiful painting that had colors of pearl, silver and gold.”
Volkov remembered trying to figure out how Turner was able to create such a vibrant work.
“I stood in front of this painting and wondered how you could take paints and put them together to create a sunset and sea scape,” Volkov said.
A few weeks later, Volkov learned how.
“It happened that same year I was in an accident while riding my bike in the city and I couldn’t go to school for month,” he said with a laugh. “So, I bought a box of paints and stayed at home and painted a copy of the William Turner painting.
“It was almost a mathematical puzzle because you are only given a number of colors in paints,” he added. “You have to combine those colors in subtle ways to come up with the real color of, say, peach skin, or the light you see on rooftops.”
After he recovered from the crash, Volkov continued his education and painted for pleasure and fun.
“I dived in to it to get away from everything,” he said. “It was very exciting and interesting.”
Although Volkov graduated with a degree in physics and worked as an electrician, plumber and carpenter, art was the constant in his life.
“The one thing that survived throughout it all was painting,” he said. “It was the one thing that made money for me.”
Throughout his art career, Volkov — who didn’t have any extended formal training — picked up some pointers from studying the works from Vemeer to Michelangelo.
“I learned from all the big dead ones, both crazy and not-so-crazy,” he said with a chuckle. “Those were my influences and they were all completely different.
“Our voices becomes our own when we listen to the voices of many others over the course of many years. You distill meaning from all of those people to make your own.”
Volkov’s philosophy is expounded in his new book, “The Study of Time Passed,” which is the follow up to his 2004 publication, “The Never Ending Way Home.”
“The title of the new book reflects my attempt to look back at years of artwork and see if I can make sense of it,” Volkov said. “I believe, maybe naively, that the ultimate purpose of art is to stand in the middle of it all, strip yourself down to the skin and bones and say, ‘this is it.’ You don’t need any explanation. You learn something about yourself.
“In our lives something happens that changes your life in one moment and here I am, some 40 years later. People say if you try something for more 30 years you are either an idiot or become good at it. Somewhere in between lies the truth.”
Artist receptions at Pando Fine Art, 444 Main St., for oil painter Alexander Volkov will be from 7-9 p.m. on Friday, Feb. 24; 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. and 7-9 p.m. on Saturday, Feb. 25 and 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. on Sunday, Feb 26. The events are free and open to the public. For information, visit http://www.pandofineart.com.
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