Oleksii Gnievyshev was born in the heart of Ukraine, in its capital city of Kyiv. There he spent his childhood, visiting an art school during his schooling years, which prepared him for later studies in art. In 2009, Oleksii was accepted at the Academy of Art in Kiev, where he studied for five years, receiving his degree in 2014. In his studies, he was mentored by teacher Volodimir Bagalika, who is regarded as a renowned artist and teacher on the Kiev scene in creative art and painting.
After moving to Germany, Oleksii Gnievyshev began to actively develop his career as an artist in a new medium of European art for him. Starting from modest exhibitions in the Cologne, he is now monthly exhibited in the most prestigious exhibitions and large galleries throughout Europe- from Cambridge to Sicily. According to the artist himself, it is very difficult to visit all of his exhibitions and most of the work is performed by curators or his art agents. Oleksii also maintains a successful blog and art page on Facebook. The page already boasts quite a small popularity of 10,000 subscribers. Oleksii’s art is already known around the world, and articles on his work are available in many different languages.
One word comes to mind: magic. Whatever it is that encompasses the meaning of the word magic, it can truly be found in the works of art of Oleksii. Through his art, he is able to express our deepest desires in such a subtle way that you are simply left with the realization that indeed, that is your intention. And ultimately, your quest to search outside suddenly turns inward and you understand that what you seek is not far from your reach. It is a union of matter and energy, of acceptance and doubt, of dreams and reality. His art transcends times, dimensions, senses and emotions and you are left absorbing it all.
Q. As a child, what did you wish to become when you grew up?
A. When I was a small child, I recognized in myself a creative talent and a desire to create something. But I could not decide in which direction to give preference. I chose between painting, literature and music. My older sister, who at that time went to study at an art studio, helped me decide. And in her example, I saw how great it is!
At 12, I decided to become an artist.
Q. Do you remember the first art you made? What was it and how old were you?
A. I painted with watercolors and pencils from early childhood. But I remembered my acquaintance with oil paints. My parents had a set of oil paints but they forbade me to use it since I was too small. They became something unattainably beautiful for me. I examined the paintings of great artists and dreamed that as soon as I had these magical colors, I would paint like them. And then one day they were given to me, I was about nine years old, and I was happy. The first thing I drew was a church on the edge of a cliff near the harsh North Sea. I was then inspired by the English romantics. Of course, I was not satisfied with the first oil painting, because I did not know how to mix paints. But a start was made.
Q. How and when did you first become seriously interested in art?
A. As previously said, the culprit was my older sister. She inspired me with her example, she is also a very creative person and loves to draw, and also allowed me to read wonderful large books about artists. Even then, the magic of art fascinated me.
Q. What’s your best childhood memory?
A. There are a lot of them, and it is difficult to say one thing. But one of these is my first visit to the art museum of Russian art in Kiev. At that time, I first saw the originals of huge, especially in my eyes, paintings of great artists. I remember I was very impressed!
Q. What personality trait has gotten you in the most trouble?
A. I am lazy (at least that's how I feel). Even after I have been working on a painting for some ten hours it still seems not enough to me. I strive to live each moment of my life to its fullest, and laziness is the greatest enemy to this fervor of mine.
Q. What have you had to sacrifice for this career?
A. I gave art all my time, and I continue to give. For me, there are no days off or evening vacations. I get up at 5 in the morning and I'm all at work until the evening. Sometimes I just have to force myself to rest. Art has long been the meaning of my life.
Q. Tell us about your particular style and how you came to it?
A. I possess quite a unique and particular painting style which blends classical realism with a modern touch. In a series of portrayals, I narrate tales from Greek mythology along with an interplay between human and animal nature. My pictures appear vivid and powerful: the animals embody a particular sentiment and the interaction between the characters tells a story. Influences from Asian culture can also be seen in my works. The fascination with Japan does not only stem from general interest, but also from the historical and familial background: my family has their roots in Japan. When people asked me about the inspiration behind my works, I speak of the fascinating energies that individuals emanate, as well as of the certain kinds of wisdom which animals possess. The beauty of the interplay between two beings is what gives meaning and depth to my art. I also talk of abstract realism, an artistic movement given birth through renowned artists many centuries ago. In keeping with this tradition, I present an abstract interpretation of real objects and forms, which are portrayed according to perception and feeling, giving life and authenticity to my oil paintings.
Q. Who are your biggest influences? Are you inspired by the work of your peers or anyone else in particular?
A. My greatest influence was years of training with my teacher Vladimir Bagalika. It was in his works that I saw the power of expression so necessary for me, his painting technique still inspires me. He also revealed to me the full depth of the works of artist El Greco and Vrubel. I am still inspired by them.
Q. What does your art aim to express?
A. Basically, sincerity and craftsmanship are the most important things for me in art. And if the first in contemporary art is overabundance, the craftsmanship is a rarity. I aspire and demand mastery on myself with great attention to my work. Through the abstract, and the abstract is the base of my art style, I’m trying to show people something beautiful and at the same time quite a realistic picture. I am inspired by the power, by the energy which is hidden inside humans, animals, and plants. The power that penetrates everything around us. I can feel it everywhere. I am trying with lines, dots and spots on canvas to display this energy to other people. Not imposingly indicative, but to show others to feel deeply inside, and that such energy exists. As motives, I frequently use classical Greek mythology or people and animal portraits, as this is the best way to show inner completeness.
Lines tension system - unique technique. System of lines tension is a unique school of abstract realism, that is based not on the knowledge of shape (with the help of anatomy, perspective and so on), but on the abstract perception and interpretation. When any realistic picture is composed from high abstract system of dots and lines. And by finding this system in real life and putting it on paper or canvas necessary concentration and depth of image, the similarity of the portrait or persuasive freshness of fruits on paintings is reached.
Abstract perception helps us to go away from everyday useless thoughts and to develop a colossal speed of consciousness that is faster than our mind. This helps to see shape like composite, an ever-changing pattern of lines, colors, and dots. It's real magic that takes out a breath and brings the sense of euphoria... euphoria of creation!
Most of the great masters of the past lived with that theory, and now it is gaining strength in the 21st century. No wonder they say: the new is a well-forgotten old.
This technique has been developed and created in late the 80s and early 90s by my teacher V. Bagalika. But the root of this technic is very old. It started from the old masters of art- Rembrandt, Velázquez, Dürer... and many others. In the XX century it was used by gorgeous Russian secession painter M. Vrubel, whose influence helps to renovate this technique.
Q. Is the artistic life lonely? What do you do to counteract it?
A. I am not alone. I have a wonderful wife, a musician, and a singer who always supports me. We have two cats, and I am always surrounded by friends and apprentices. I do not live up to the lonely artist cliché.
Q. Apart from art, what do you love doing?
A. I am seriously into Kung Fu, my goal is to become a master and teach others. Kung Fu philosophy resonates with the way I see art, to me it's a true harmony of mind and body.
Q. What is your philosophy in matters of art?
A. Art has to be self-contained in its ability to make an impact on the audience. True art directly speaks to mind and soul, impressing and inspiring the viewer. Wretched indeed are those art pieces that require actual explanations telling the audience where's the sense in what they are currently viewing.
Q. What does 'success' mean to you?
A. Acknowledgment of my paintings as modern art in respective museums. It's a tough goal since nowadays these mostly accept conceptual art and performances. Which is kind of sad.
Q. What are the biggest things you've learned in life thus far?
A. Never give up. Disregard all the hardships while following your dream and you will persist.
Q. What’s the best piece of advice you’ve been given, and by who?
A. A long time ago I read a book about 19th-century Russian painter Arkhip Kuindzhi. His advice for those striving to truly grasp the concept of light in painting was to get up at dawn. Since then early morning is my favorite time to paint.
Q. What advice would you give to the next generation?
A. Do not oversimplify art. Admit its’ depth and complexity, dive deep into it to get to know yourself.