Vladimir Kush, A Metaphorical Journey
Welcome to the world of Vladimir Kush, where myth, metaphor and poetry combine in new forms. Through the juxtaposition of previously unrelated objects and the exploration of different viewpoints, the artist’s work makes reference to deeper meanings and metaphors, while still maintaining its realistic approach to representation, a style he refers to as Metaphorical Realism.
Vladimir Kush was born and grew up in Moscow, Russia. His father Oleg, a mathematician with artistic tendencies, encouraged his son’s natural talent at an early age. He also did his best to provide Vladimir with books of romantic travel by hard-to-get (and sometimes banned) authors such as Jules Verne, Jack London and Herman Melville, in the hopes that his mind would wander outside the grey world that encompassed him. At the age of seven, Kush began the formal training that led him to the Art Institute of Moscow where he furthered his mastery of color theory, composition, oils, and art techniques of all kinds. The school put forth what could be called the Cezanne method, and though Vladimir quickly mastered it, he then left it behind because form was lost in color and emotion took over where he felt the intellect should rightly roam.
After a mandatory stint in the Russian Army where he mostly kept busy painting large murals and portraits of generals, he briefly taught at his alma mater but found he could make more money (and have enough free time to explore his newly forming style) by painting portraits on the streets. It was there that he made connections with American embassy workers who helped ease his transition to the US after his first successful show in Germany in 1990 brought him to Los Angeles and eventually Hawaii, his home today.
Vladimir still visits Moscow often where the cold, dark winters force his imagination to roam, but the influence of the Hawaiian skies is readily apparent in many of his paintings. He sums it up for us: “Due to political and geographic restraints, I was forced to travel with my mind as a child, and it is this most of all that has shaped my artistic perception and voice, but I would likely never have painted the colors or clouds seen in my paintings if it hadn’t been for the sights of my tropical, second home.”
Kush has developed his own artistic credo that substantiates his Metaphorical Realism and which, above all, demands the following:
• Likeness, which is the evidence of high professional skill—it makes the viewer believe in the world imagined by the artist, as realism does in fiction and film.
• Avoidance of actual living forms, presenting the aesthetic object rather than emotional subjects.
• The use of deep irony to reach real aesthetic enjoyment, and as hammer to break apart old myths whose pieces will then be re-assembled in new forms, a process known as re-mythologizing.
He explains further: “I want to touch my audience on a much deeper emotional or intellectual level than would be possible by painting a pretty landscape or still life where viewers are tempted to place themselves in the landscape, or consume the bowl of fruit—the goal of realism is also its limitation. I try to provide layers of meaning for viewers to explore and emotionally respond to the discoveries they find in my art.”
The artist reaches for the realm of the incomprehensible where his knowledge will not be enough. He substitutes unreachable realities with metaphysical images; he throws a veil, hiding the essence. Otherwise, science would intervene, disintegrating the image and its beauty into components…what then would happen to Mona Lisa’s famous smile?