"ART IS A PERSONAL CONVERSATION WITH GOD WHO SOMETIMES SHOWS UP."
Anton Semenov (born in 1982) is an artist from Bratsk, a small city in Irkutsk Oblast, Russia. His entire life is connected to this city. This is the place where he was born, has seen him grow and where his art was formed. And in return, Semenov has somehow reflected that in his illustrations.
When asked about his childhood, Semenov replied by saying "I grew up in a healthy and normal environment. An only son, and of quite calm temperament. My city is a small city. All life and events are tied to two or three main streets, everything is encapsulated there." Anton Semenov went to a local art school, but quickly became uninterested in its education system. Painting still life and geometric objects from gypsum were not what he was after. His imagination wanted to explore deeper dimensions, with much more intense meanings that could express his inner vision. He stayed there for a couple more years in order to learn the basics of drawing, and when time was up, he simply left.
Anton Semenov’s illustrations have the ability to immerse you in an engaging, imaginative and very real world. It makes you wonder what skeletons lurk in the closets of everyday people -including your own. Throughout his illustrations, he tackles tales, cosmic horror, and even empathy. Each creation feels fresh and exciting, yet somehow, they all feel connected to that necessary darkness. Semenov’s illustrations can range from intimidating, scary, a walk on the gloomy side with a touch of innocence… to a terrifying image straight out of a nightmare… a nightmare that at some point in our lives we could relate to. An honest descent to the unlimited fuel within…that more often than not, is just plain darkness, and we are too afraid to let that be seen because “oh what would others think?” Yet somehow, Semenov depicts all that in his illustrations, leaving you with a taste in your mouth (or soul) of pure recognition. Because let’s face it, for light wouldn’t be visible if it weren’t for darkness. And darkness would cease to exist if it weren’t for light.
Q. Do you remember the first work of art that you did? What was it and how old were you?
A. In the third grade, I drew a traffic light (on a ruler), for this "masterpiece" I then received an average rating. It was a terribly boring linear pattern with crookedly colored elements. I do, however, remember gathering with my friends in our youth years, and we would create band rock covers, you know, bands such as IRON MAIDEN, ARIA (Russian group), etc. We always tried to draw something of our own, in our own style. It was fascinating, and probably the beginning of the formation of me as an artist.
Q. How did you become an Artist?
A. Becoming an artist happened by itself. Similar as to how time puts everything in its place. When the hobby begins to occupy more and more space in our lives and it becomes our profession, excluding everything else. And without realizing it, you start getting paid for it.
Q. Tell us about some of the highlights of your creative career, about such unforgettable shows/exhibitions?
A. This is tricky, I have never participated in any exhibitions. Attempts of course were made, but everything was strangely canceled and each time for different reasons. There were a couple of group exhibitions, but I personally did not attend. It seems to me that if I came to them, they would also be canceled (laughs).
Q. Are there any particular painting traditions or “old masters” that influenced your work?
A. I always admired the great masters of Art. Once, I had large collections of reproductions of classic works and I studied them for a long time. I sketched favorite pictures, I even made copies with oil paints (to the best of my abilities, of course). The works of the old masters were certainly part of the foundation of my formation. Later, I visited the Tretyakov Gallery (Moscow) and saw the originals of many paintings from those collections, it was an indescribable experience. Guessing similar to when you meet on the street your favorite actor who is often seen on the screen.
Q. Are you inspired by the work of your peers or anyone else in particular?
A. Back in my youth, I was very inspired by the drawings of friends. They painted much better than me and a feeling of competition woke up in me. I wanted to draw at least the same. Probably my best teachers were my friends. Now, those drawings would have made me laugh, but at that time I was proud of them.
Q. What does success mean to you?
A. To be understood by people. This doesn't happen as often as I should like. But when it happens, I can honestly say, that's when I succeed as an Artist.
Q. What advice would you give to the next art-generation?
A. Reach the end of your purpose/path but don't get lost in it.