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Saturday, August 20, 2016

Vladimir Kush

Love, Vladimir Kush
Descent to the
Vladimir Kush
Most often, when a style or art movement fades from prominence, it doesn't so much die, or "pass away" into art history, but instead goes into a period of hibernation. Sometimes this "resting" can be rela-tively short as when Dada reawakened, metamor-phosed into the Conceptual Art just a few decades later. In other cases, as with Romanticism, and the Pre-Raphaelite movement, the reawakening took nearly two generations. In the human realm, when we reawaken each morning, we're not quite the same as when we fell asleep. The same is true of art movements put to rest by the artists and critics of one era; when they are revived dozens of years later, they're usually somewhat, or even quite dif-ferent. I suppose the one exception to this "rule" would have to be Realism, which could almost be deemed eternal in that, if it gets any rest at all, it's barely more than a short nap. Be that as it may, we could be seeing today the reawakening of an art movement which has lain dormant since 1989 and the death of Salvador Dali. Today, with the advent of digital art, Dali's Surrealism seems poised for a revival. There's certainly no shortage of it on the Internet. It's hard to say for sure at this point, but one artist seems to be leading this revival, the Russian-born painter, Vladimir Kush.

Always Together, Vladimir Kush, about as close
to Dali as he ever ventures.
Arrival of the Flower Ship,
Vladimir Kush
Kush doesn't consider himself a Sur-realist. If we accept the fact that art movements change while hibernating, perhaps we should also accept Kush's preferred designation of his work as Metamorphic Realism. Certainly, he's no Salvador Dali, though at times, his works, such as Always Together (above), and Descent to the Mediterranean (above, right) in which he dabbles in Dali's favorite colors, might suggest his being a distant relative. In most cases, Dali's work had a hard, indefinable, "edge" to it. Kush's paintings seldom do. Like Dali and the other Surrealists, Kush's work deals with the subconscious, what the layman might call "dreams." But unlike the Sur-realism, Kush's subconscious renderings seldom rise to the level of nightmares. They are wanderings, appearing at times almost like chance encounters. Rarely does Kush depart from a search for some form of truth and beauty. If his work has a fault, it would be that sometimes he finds beauty but then doesn't pursue it to the depth at which truth resides. His gorgeous painting titled simply, Love (top), is such an example while his Arrival of the Flower Ship (above, left) is not so much surreal as simply "pretty." It's cargo bears no eternal truths but childlike fantasies instead.

Kush may claim not to be a Surrealist, but his
photos say differently. Notice the eyes painted
on his glasses and on the knee of his jeans.
Vladimir Kush was born in 1965, raised and educated in Moscow, graduating from the Surikov Moscow Art Institute. After two years in the Soviet Army painting murals, and a number of years working as an artist in Moscow, he emigrated to the United States, eventually establishing his own gallery on the island of Maui in Hawaii. His popularity led to his starting two more galleries, one in Laguna Beach, California, and another in Las Vegas. In 2011 Kush won First Prize in Painting at the Artistes du Monde international exhibition in Cannes. Today he makes most of his income from the sale of original oil paintings, Giclee prints, and suing record companies for stealing his work.

Here Kush seems to have goin in search of
beauty and found the truth as well.
Hibiscus Dancer, Vladimir Kush
In addition to painting, Kush also fashions bronze-colored sculptures, small-scale versions of the imagery from his paint-ings. Walnut of Eden (above) and Pros and Cons are examples. Despite not want-ing to be considered a Surrealist, Kush cites the early influence on his style of Salvador DalĂ­'s Surrealism as well as landscapes by the German romantic painter, Caspar David Friedrich. Going back to an earlier manifestation of Sur-realism, another influence on Kush's work was the 16th-century Dutch painter, Hier-onymus Bosch, known for his fantastic imagery and sometimes characterized as "the pre-Surrealism Surrealist." Wings, ships, exotic flowers, and color-saturated seascapes are frequent themes in his paintings, exemplified in Arrival of the Flower Ship and Hibiscus Dancer (left) Flowing water is another recurrent theme, exemplified by Fashionable Bridge (below). Other works such as Behind the Trees and African Sonata (also below) merge human and animal forms with inanimate objects.

Vladimir Kush's Metaphorical Realism
With other paintings Kush likes to dabble in history and the passage of time, a type of work he calls Horometry (below-left). His Golden Anniversary (bottom-right) gives a whole new meaning to the term "banana hammock." As mentioned earlier, it's questionable as to whether some of Kush's work falls into the traditional range of Surrealism or whether, instead, Metaphorical Realism is simply influenced by the lingering presence of Salvador Dali. We might even wonder if what we're seeing is, in fact, a reawakening, or simply Dali rolling over in his grave.

It looks a lot like Surrealism, but is it really?
Chess, Vladimir Kush

Atlas of Wander, Vladimir Kush


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