Timur Akhriev — Exploration of Composition
Previously in our very first blog post I spoke of the Cutter family and how we are dedicated to operating art galleries that continue to serve our clients and immerse collectors into the wonderful world of fine art. There are three crucial components to that endeavor. The Artist, The Collector, and The Art Dealer! All are of equal importance in perpetuating the keeping of creativity and the reverence for it alive. Today my words focus on an artist worthy of your discovery, Timur Akhriev! – Len Cutter
“I embrace compositional liberty, a love of complex surface qualities, and a freedom to break rules.” – Timur Akhriev
Timur has been supremely trained at one of the best of art academies, and he has learned to focus his subconscious to solve painting problems. Such self-beliefs and his willingness to often try something new or different bring to the art world those must have works that are marvelous. While deeply immersed in technical skills and academia, Timur is cognizant of how his life in Russia, with its war-torn displacements and decisions, molded him into a man destined for the free world! Timur told me recently, “why do paintings that show sorrow? We already know what that is.” He stated, “this is a time to think about life!” Timur speaks of many things, he is happy to study life… in all of its precious forms, from the smallest flower that grows… to the grandeur and enormity of nature with a cosmic perspective and insight.
Since childhood my life was often nomadic and it had a fair share of contrast in it. When I was seven years old I ended up in a war zone which my family and I managed to escape. I grew up with my aunts and an uncle, but without my parents for most of my teens. After living in Russia for eighteen years I moved to US and have been here ever since. What I paint today comes from my thoughts about my family’s dynamics and these major, numerous relocations. I am aware of the contrast between being with one half of a family and then the other, and the contrast between life in a war zone and the total relief of life on the other side of the world.
My early career efforts were primarily objective observations of the world through still life and plein air painting. I am moving towards a more symbolic visual practice, but still using the vocabulary of Realism. Exploration of the formal elements of a composition fascinate me and are often what reveal to me the conceptual impulse. Having lived through many contrasting formative experiences, I am, as if drawn by gravity, attracted to contrast in my paintings, to things that don’t “work” combined together in an image. I let my subconscious guide me towards a visual solution, using the skills I have acquired through the years. Read more about Timur HERE.
“Having lived through many contrasting formative experiences, I am, as if drawn by gravity, attracted to contrast in my paintings, to things that don’t “work” combined together in an image.”
“I think we all have our influences that lead us to be who we are as artists. Russian schooling gave me a great training, but when one has two great colleagues (Melissa Hefferlin and Daud Akhriev) by your side it is a great opportunity to always learn more. As Akira Kurosawa said, “If you want to be a professional you have to remain a student.” I believe there is no end to how much one can learn and move forward, even if sometimes you feel like you’re standing in the same spot…” Read the full Timur Akhriev interview with the Oil Painters of America HERE.
Take a look at his original works that exhibit innate tendencies towards the very diversity in life that drives him towards telling us of the things he sees and his propensity to record those moments and emotions for us… the collectors and art dealers. Realism anchors his art with a most unusual visual vocabulary and a great diversity in subject matters. What results are paintings that personify his genius for the ‘nomadic eye’ and a penchant to paint.
Either in his studio or in ‘plein aire’ (when the moment allows only a brief time to capture the fascinations of his travels.) These moments and places are potent for Timur who is pulled into them, as if being attracted by an artistic gravity… his urge to paint is irresistible! Timur reminds us that the subtleties he paints are in fact there for all to see but I’m grateful to know that like great artists of the past (Cezanne, Van Gogh, Gauguin) Timur may very well be seeing the unseen and overlooked beauty that surrounds us all.
Time Out of Mind | Oil on Linen | 17″ x 11″
Albert Einstein’s curiosity about time and space lead to theorems stimulated by his ‘thought experiments’ where he imagined himself able to ride a beam of light. Timur’s ‘Time Out of Mind’ has captured a woman deep in thought. Butterflies emerge and surround her ‘thought’ in a stimulating colorful reverie. “Have you ever had butterflies in your stomach?” Timur asks. In this painting they are in one’s mind, a place where calm confidence can control all of life’s challenges. A profound question… now a masterpiece.
Pearl | Oil on Linen | 48″ x 31″
A spectacular work of art and the result of an entire week of set up alone. Timur wanted to ‘push’ the viewer inward towards the middle of this painting, notice the dark bottom and the lively blue ‘sky’ at the top. In the middle every stitch of color celebrates the light as carefully orchestrated folds guide us throughout this still life painting. A daring mind and artist who possesses unlimited confidence. I’m convinced that when you see this artwork and meet the artist you will be a Cutter & Cutter client for life!
Electric Forest | Gouache on Paper | 17.5″ x 10″
Timur’s mind is vivid and he has a curiosity for (what seems like) everything! In Electric Forest a woman interacts with colorful moths… which are nocturnal creatures. Owing to the artist’s interest in things like infrared telescopes that study deep space, his subject sees at night, in an infrared inspection of heat… as light and color. Her right hand glowing in infrared, guiding her through the Electric Forest… A breakthrough painting!
Reflection No.1 | Oil on Linen | 48″ x 71″
“The concept for this collection of paintings came from my trips to Maine over the last 14 Years. As a traditionally-trained painter, I have done many paintings using a classical approach to landscape. In my visits, I wanted to closely inspect the layers of land and sea in order to study their most basic nature. Simultaneously, asking myself what are the sublayers that make us human? What do the small details look like that make us who we are?
As our lives have evolved into sound bites and Twitter feeds we frequently judge others on first impressions and miss the details of who people are. I’m guilty of that as well. I became fascinated with the Cherokee concept that pools of water are portals to another reality. I found this idea interesting and mysterious. I decided to combine paintings of high tide and low tide water that come and go with paintings of pools of water that stay put year round. Formally I was interested in the aesthetic aspect of the micro versus macro views, something that continues to pull me.
I remember when taking these photographs and doing studies, thinking that those underwater pebble fields looked like NASA’s pictures of a far universe and that those pebbles actually came from those far away places, as all of us might have. The pools became my portals to the discovery of life’s mysteries and my search for balance.” -Timur Akhriev
Chrysalis | Oil on Panel | 12″ x 16″
Timur’s active and agile mind never stops… imagining. His painting ‘Chrysalis’ was his first in the ‘Blooming of Yourself’ series where he connects humanity to nature itself. A colorful array of shapes and delicate wisps of energy bring out the fascination of life. Fine art is so vital to our happiness and provides understanding of the world surrounding us. Timur Akhriev is the kind of artist that art dealers most admire, his endless diversity assures that our work is vital as well.
A CONVERSATION WITH TIMUR AKHRIEV…
I was born in the South of Russia in a small town called Vladikavakaz. All of my parents are artists, and I grew up seeing paintings in the house. We hung out at my dad’s studio or at those of his colleagues, which exposed me to lots of art. At the age of eleven I went to an elementary school specifically to train young artists. I spent seven years there, and after graduation I moved to the USA. I attended two years at the University of Tennessee, and after that I went to Florence Italy to study more traditional art for another two years at The Florence Academy and the Charles Cecil Studios.
What role does the artist have in society?
In my opinion, artists have to bring people together and learn how to communicate to each other, no matter whether it’s an installation, traditional painting, abstract painting, poetry, music, film or dance. I very much agree with one of the best filmmakers of our time, Andrey Tarkovsky who said the purpose of art is to give our lives meaning. I always keep that thought in mind when I paint and when I question the purpose of what I am doing.
What’s your favorite artwork/artist?
On the top of my list is Vermeer’s “Sleeping Maid”. An absolutely sublime work of art. I am always astonished how someone can convey silence in such a subtle way. The painting is not made for anyone but the artist himself. I also very much admire several living artists. One is Nicolas Uribe, who is an amazing portrait and figurative artist. There’s also Caleb Stolfutz whose sense of color and space is subtle and beautiful. Viktoria Kalaichi has abundant soul and sensitivity in her work. And Lis Pardoe’s paintings are so personal, one might feel like that you are in them, very beautiful work. The list could go on forever.
What art do you most identify with/gain inspiration from? What inspires you?
Growing up in a household of artists and attending school with amazingly talented people, I have no end to inspiration. I try to start everyday with a new understanding of my work and discover something for the future of my painting. One of my favorite quotes from Igor Stravinsky when he was asked from where he gets his inspiration, he answered “At my piano.” It’s the same with a lot of artists I know and myself as well. I get excited when I’m starting or continuing my work. Inspiration comes with the work, not always before.
Describe a real-life situation that inspired you?
I think when I lived my second year in Florence Italy. I went to Siena for a day trip and fell completely in love with that city. So much so that I would catch a 6:00 am bus and go there on the weekends and paint all day. That was one of the best times in my life.
What memorable responses have you had to your work?
Overall the response to my paintings are very positive and people are very polite. There was one exception though, which is one of my all time favorite responses. I’d painted a triptych called “Baptism” of my friend trying to have a new beginning. The triptych was a monotone series and one of the comments was, “I just don’t understand, how can you call this art?!?” I absolutely love this response. To this day and it still makes me giggle if I think about it.
What is something you would like to change about the art world?
I would like to know more about this world we live in, because it is such an interesting place. I want to add more and more knowledge to myself, which of course will change how I look at the work that I do. I’m positively excited about discovering new perspectives in my art.
What’s the best piece of advice you’ve been given?
Listen to people with intent, communicate and connect with others even if it’s difficult at first, and give yourself a chance to understand others. The best painting advice is from Vladimir Aronovich Lepitz, who is a professor at the Imperial Academy of Art in St.Petersburg Russia. His belief is that any work an artist does has to have a purpose—whether it’s a small sketch or a monumental installation. It really helped me in the last year to improve my painting and face the areas I use to avoid.
What’s your ultimate goal as an artist?
I often think about cave drawings that were discovered in France going back 40,000 years. Were they documentation of lives? Was the artist trying document moving time in the still frame? Was the purpose spiritual, or was it made for some more concrete purpose? I question why we paint what we paint, why we spend an immense amount of time in the painting studio (or film studio or in nature), trying to capture the essence of the time that we artists see. Thinking about those cave people who drew those early lines on the sides of the wall, I wonder why are some of us drawn to put marks on a paper, canvas, walls, piece or rock or a metal plate, almost as an obsession? According to historians, art emerged 10,000 years before agriculture, which I think indicates that our urge to document and communicate experiences. This is to me what the power of art is—this opening to different horizons and connections. I hope that my work can give someone an understanding that the world is a better place than we sometimes perceive. I hope that people, just maybe for a split second, will forget the noise when they look at my work, as I do when I see a beautiful work of art by someone else.