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I am an Artist: Alex Arshansky, Arizona

1. Why are you an artist?
I strongly feel it has always been my calling. I started drawing at 3, made my first oil painting at 12. My family was always very much against me being an artist, and I went along with what was expected of me. However, by age 30 things started getting in prospective, and I realized that this is the only true thing that makes me happy and complete.

2. Is there a concept behind your work? If so, please tell us about it.
Only abstract artists can have the freedom of not having concept behind their work, but even they claim to have it. Concept behind my work is to challenge people’s minds while pleasing their eyes.

3. Why do you use the medium that you use?
The use of acrylics is dictated by fast drying of the paint and the archival quality of the end product. Acrylics allow for a fast work flow utilizing both blending and layer techniques. I prefer to paint on stretched canvas as it gives my art the best display potential.

4. How do you think of the subjects that you paint?
Rarely I have a subject in mind. I usually just allow my hand to do whatever it wants. I often listen to music when I sketch and paint to distract myself enough, so my hand has that complete freedom. This creates a feeling my hand is being guided by someone or something else, and the end result is always a surprise for me as much as it is for an observer.

5. Take us through your process of making a new work.
Sketch, paint, outline, coat. Yes, that is all I can tell you… The creative process should always remain a mystery in order to preserve the magic power of art. And I strongly believe it.

6. Who/What are your artistic influences?
When I was 9 years old I went to see an exhibition of Picasso’s work in Moscow and was very impressed and amazed. That was my first experience seeing art that was more concerned about the feelings and emotions within rather than the photo-realistic reproduction of a subject. Since that moment I wanted to do something different and unique, develop my own way of depicting the world. Many artists simply try to copy life or nature, rather than creating something new and original. I think that imagination is what really makes a good artist, not the training or influences. Among my favorite artists are Picasso, Dali, Frida Kahlo and Francis Bacon. I don’t like to say that I am influenced by any of those masters, but rather that they have been inspirational icons for my art. My true wish is that someday I can be an inspiration for someone else.

7. What is the role of the artist in our society? and in Arizona?
The role of the artist is to create art. The society needs a variety of expression. Art offers something very unique and lasting. It is a gift for your eyes and your mind. I also think that paintings carry a certain energy which can be very constructive or destructive. Knowing that for me, an art is a reason to live, also makes me feel that my artworks have a place and purpose to fulfill. I don’t know what, when and how… All I have is faith and knowledge that I must continue painting in order to exist.

Arizona is an amazing spiritually rich state, full of beauty and saturated colors! It had a major impact on my work in terms of color and style. However, I am proud to be the artist who doesn’t paint cowboys, native American and southwestern themes. I think that most artists in Arizona are craftsmen who have reduced the meaning of native American art form to the likes of Walmart; and their bottom line is to sell “canned” art to the masses. I don’t paint to sell. I don’t paint to fill the space on the wall under the sofa. It saddens me that so many people in Arizona have such a primitive way of seeing the purpose of art, and it is a bit discouraging at times.

8. Where do you see yourself as an artist in 5 years?
I see myself painting in 5 years. I have great hopes and aspirations as an artist, but I am being patient and thoughtful about how to deal with potential success or with failure, and never want my art come at the expense of what I hold very dear to me – I have a beautiful non-traditional family of 4 and that is my number one concern. Unfortunately, the art market and proper connections determine a destiny of an artist more than tone’s talent. I want to be free of these concerns as I simply want to paint and enjoy life. Success is not always a final destination.

9. What are your ultimate goals as an artist?
Art is my therapy and my escape from the world. My goal is to make a living as an artist and just keep painting. I love doing it and my ultimate goal is to grow and explore new ways of express that love. I don’t want to be poor and I don’t want to be rich, I just want people to enjoy what I do best.

10. What does art mean to you?
My own art to me is like a lover, and each painting is like a child… But in general terms, I think that art is a fuel for the soul, the best antidepressant, an escape for the mind. It is very many things to me, and I would not want to live in the world without art…

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