Lysakov Art Company, PO Box 1706, Pebble Beach, CA 93953 - e-mail: info@lysakovartcompany.com

 

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Carnival Motif

  • What is Carnival? It could be a festival, fête, parade or pageant. An event of merrymaking, feasting or masquerading, perhaps. Carnival has even been defined as an instance of riotous excess. Furthermore, Carnival represents the title of one of Victor Lysakov's beloved masterpieces.

    Painted in 1984, Victor Lysakov found inspiration for Carnival while nodding off on a trolley ride. When his eyes opened from slumber, the painting appeared not as a dream, but as reality.

    For the next 20 years, he attempted to revisit the Carnival Motif. Various works of art came and went, but it wasn't until he painted The People did he truly come back to his Carnival Motif roots.

    Spanish poet Antonio Machado once wrote, "The real carnival is not when you put on a mask, but when you take off your face." This quote resonates with Lysakov, because it "provides us with the paradigm of thinking in the given circumstances." He used to assume that only in Russia did "people take off their faces," but was later convinced that it may be a worldwide phenomenon.

    Artists have been replaced by animation technology, scientists by astrologists, and poets by pop singers. Conceivably, our world has entered an era of carnivals.

    "There is no time to work or think; you simply can not stop," Lysakov says. Life is more convenient, faster and opportune "through the eyes of a mask."

  • Appearance of a Bird

    Appearance of a Bird

    1993, Oil on Canvas, Size: 23 x 16, Private Collection
  • Awaiting Courtesan

    Awaiting Courtesan

    1994, Oil on Canvas, Size: 39 x 39

    In late 20th century Russia, I spent hours reading through some of Ernest Hemingway’s novels. In his 1932 non-fiction book, Death in the Afternoon, Hemingway says, “Bullfighting is the only art in which the artist is in danger of death and in which the degree of brilliance in the performance is left to the fighter's honor." Dressed in traditional costume, the brave matadors appear graceful and confident, while expertly mastering the bull itself. It becomes a dance of sorts – first, the rivals observe each other, then the matador provokes the bull with his cape (muleta), followed by a ferocious charge by the angry bull. Music plays in the backdrop, while the tension thickens and the audience applauds. As the bull becomes weaker, the matador gains strength. In the finale, an ultimate thrust of a sword (estoques de desabello) to the bull’s neck brings the dance to a dramatic end.

  • Birth of an Idol

    Birth of an Idol

    1989, Oil on Canvas, Size: 51 x 39
  • Carnival

    Carnival

    1984, Oil on Canvas, Size: 46 x 46
  • Confessions of a Green Cock

    Confessions of a Green Cock

    1989, Oil on Canvas, Size: 51 x 39, Private Collection
  • Customs Conspiracy

    Customs Conspiracy

    1991, Oil on Canvas, Size: 39 x 31

    As an artist, I’ve taken many trips across the Russian border to exhibit my art, meet with collectors and promote my paintings. Each time I’m required to navigate through the thorny customs procedures, I am overcome with a strong feeling of dread and displeasure. Not once have I enjoyed the process.

    This painting is fondly dedicated to the U.S. Consular Service and all my customs compatriots around the world.

     

  • Disciplined by Cube

    Disciplined by Cube

    1993, Oil on Canvas, Size: 39 x 32

    Disciplined by Cube is a novel about fury. The Cube is short with sharp edges like fury itself. This rage can be cruel and dark as night. It’s a night of madness, burnt bridges and lost chances. The mask was always destined to be green - not because the color palette demanded balance, but it was an attempt at digression. The green offers an opportunity to come to your senses and start anew. Sadly, the green often surrenders and the digression goes amiss. At times it seems there’s never enough green to overpower the Cube.

  • Evening Walk

    Evening Walk

    1990, Oil on Canvas, Size: 39 x 31

    “I journeyed far and long on this road of poetry.
    There were times when I walked with a light in my hand;
    Other times I walked in the darkness with the confidence of a sleepwalker
    journeying on the very edge.”
    - Russian Poet Anna Akhmatova

    In my earlier artistic career, I painted quickly and with ease. I enjoyed the process immensely – the creation of art was pure ecstasy. As the years went by, however, I learned how to pace myself. I plunge deeply into the image, and at times, I fear that my voyage is so deep that I might never return to reality. Hours are spent facing a blank canvas, as I calculate the possibilities of different colors and compositions. It is a grueling process, but I keep focused on the finest reward – the opportunity to share my creation with the audience.

  • February 24th

    February 24th

    1990, Oil on Canvas, Size: 55 x 51

    “Red Army and Red Navy Day” is a deep-rooted Soviet tradition that is annually celebrated on February 23rd. Technically translated, it means “Men’s Day,” where countrymen rejoice with reckless abandon and tend to be a bit inebriated during the festivities. One year was particularly memorable. To divert the traffic police, your conversation had to be quick and clever, and the occasional bribe of a bottle of Cognac was always welcomed. The next day, February 24th, is a time of recovery, reflection and repentance. Out of remorse, I began to paint this image. It conquered my deep guilt and gave me a renewed sense of honor. February 24th participated in several exhibitions and the public embraced it with extraordinary enthusiasm. I described this civic phenomenon as “immersive-ness.”

     

  • Green Apple Seduction

    Green Apple Seduction

    1996, Oil on Canvas, Size: 39 x 39, Private Collection
  • Green Ropewalker

    Green Ropewalker

    1998, Oil on Canvas, Size: 22 x 14, Private Collection
  • Guard with a Guinea Fowl

    Guard with a Guinea Fowl

    1993, Oil on Canvas, Size: 32 x 24

    I believe the number 3 possesses a certain magic. Maybe it’s because the number is often associated with the Trinity concept of the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit. But in Russia, that number also represents sharing a bottle of vodka between three friends. Perhaps that is why I unconsciously placed the number 3 on the guard’s hat. The bird is clutched close to his chest, but not as a stolen treasure. The guard is a poet not a thief; the bird signifies their united destinies. The Lord created all living things in chorus – we live in harmony together and are actually not that much different from one another. We always have an opportunity to press the bird against our chest, listen closely to the silence and…believe.

  • Harlequin and Columbine

    Harlequin and Columbine

    1989, Oil on Canvas, Size: 59 x 51

    As the son of a military officer, my childhood was filled with travel. Many of our relocations were to remote cities – they offered basic products and services, but never anything as magnificent as a toy store. Only in dreams and fairy tales was I able to capture that magical experience of pressing my nose to their storefront window and coveting the playthings inside. So when I became a father to my own son, I longed to re-live my childhood through him. One New Year, I arranged a trip to an enormous toy store where my son was allowed to choose one special toy. To our horror, we found that all the shelves were completely empty – not a single toy left. It was Absurd with a capital A. I painted Harlequin and Columbine as a revolt of toys against people, against those who steal childhood. My son and I laugh about it now, but at the time, that painting was a protest and a warning. Toys continue to survive even when adults disregard them.

     

  • Hebraic Russia (Russian Carnival)

    Hebraic Russia (Russian Carnival)

    2004, Acrylic on Canvas, Size: 79 x 98
  • Joker

    Joker

    1988, Oil on Canvas, Size: 51 x 59, Private Collection
  • Kamilla

    Kamilla

    1993, Oil on Canvas, Size: 39 x 20

    As a stepdaughter, Camilla had suffered a childhood filled with anguish and sorrow. But when she dressed for the Ball, she quickly replaced her pain with pleasure. While envisioning herself dancing to the music, she became so excited that she could hardly collect her breath and her cheeks flushed with color. Luckily, her mask and feathers would hide her nerves, and her flowing dress would conceal her face powder, perfume and fairy tales. By simply putting on a costume, we can fleetingly exchange our childhood for adulthood.

  • Leaving

    Leaving

    1990, Oil on Canvas, Size: 39 x 32
  • Man with a Green Ribbon

    Man with a Green Ribbon

    1999, Oil on Canvas, Size: 28 x 24
  • Puppeteer

    Puppeteer

    1989, Oil on Canvas, Size: 39 x 32, Private Collection
  • Red Cock Appearance

    Red Cock Appearance

    1989, Oil on Canvas, Size: 51 x 55, Private Collection
  • Rider with a Fan

    Rider with a Fan

    1996, Oil on Canvas, Size: 39 x 32

    Back in 1988, the headquarters of Ogonyok magazine held a scandalous exhibition that displayed modern art and offered public readings of modern art. Even though all publications were governmentally-owned at the time, Ogonyok (the Russian counterpart to Life Magazine) was given a bit more freedom than the others. Prior to the event, the Editor-in-Chief gave media interviews and vaguely spoke about democracy. During the actual exhibition, however, the Editor-in-Chief was noticeably absent. Tension escalated as television channels attempted to contact him, and his staff quickly retreated out of fear. Meanwhile, some TV crews were filming my paintings and one journalist asked what the images meant. I sarcastically responded, “If I wanted to share what I painted with words, I would have found a scrap of paper, sat down somewhere and wrote it all out.” At that moment, I broke the habit of explaining my paintings. Words can be interfering or obstructing to art – the interpretation should be quite clear unspoken.

  • Ropewalker

    Ropewalker

    1998, Oil on Canvas, Size: 22 x 14, Private Collection
  • Ropewalker 99

    Ropewalker 99

    1999, Oil on Canvas, Size: 24 x 16, Private Collection
  • Samson and Harlequin

    Samson and Harlequin

    1989, Oil on Canvas, Size: 32 x 24, Private Collection
  • Statuette

    Statuette

    1999, Oil on Canvas, Size: 32 x 39
  • The Dwarf

    The Dwarf

    1990, Oil on Canvas, Size: 51 x 39
  • The Great Pilgrimage

    The Great Pilgrimage

    1989, Oil on Canvas, Size: 55 x 51

    There was once a magnificent forest in Moscow called Bitsa, but as the city grew, the forest sadly reduced to a modest park. In 1985, several artists began to coordinate exhibitions in this park, which was naturally forbidden by the government. Before long, these exhibitions became an open art market, which attracted a diverse and curious public. For the most part, this art market was overlooked by local authorities. From time to time, however, they would induce raids, throw artists into prison, and destroy everything in sight. Cynically, I took a carton and wrote, “If you do not want to be sorry later, purchase art now,” in big bold letters. A crowd gathered around quickly and many pictures were taken before I was swiftly arrested. The country was preparing for the Great Pilgrimage which ended like many other similar journeys – with nothing. To this day, I have never seen those photos; I wonder if they’ll ever resurface.

  • The Great Russian Mentality

    The Great Russian Mentality

    2004, Acrylic on Canvas, Size: 59 x 51

    Selecting the title of this painting was an effortless endeavor. As Russians, our people are somehow preoccupied with our great mentality and our mysterious soul. The painting began with a strange premonition of sorts. I spent a long time stretching and studying the canvas before finally making my first sketch. As I painted, I recalled the extensive and arduous history of this land. Throughout the painting’s evolution, our household became immersed in alertness. The progress was slow, but the image grew strength with every brushstroke. When the painting was at last complete, my son came home and observed my work of art. My wife and I greeted him, but he just sat silently gazing at the painting. It was only after several minutes that he spoke, “So how did you do it?” Quite confused by the inquiry, I responded, “Did what?” My son then elaborated, “How did you cram the history of a thousand years into those eyes?” His extraordinary question confirmed that my painting was indeed a success.

     

  • The Nation

    The Nation

    2004, Acrylic on Canvas, Size: 51 x 39

    One dreadful year, my wife was partially paralyzed from a stroke and endured open-heart surgery. During her recovery, we moved to our summer studio just outside of Moscow. The local authorities paid us a corrupt visit one day – I explained that my wife had been recently released from the hospital and was dependant upon my care. They demanded to see the paperwork and as I went inside to gather the documents, the authorities cut my electrical wires. In outrage, I warned them that my wife’s medications required refrigeration. They responded with sly smiles and cuffs around my wrists. The scene was despicable – behind me was my immobile wife and in front of me was the jail cell at the local police station. I sued the government, and was vindicated two years later when I finally won the case. At one point during this ordeal, I had a bizarre encounter with a stray cat. I told him what happened and he began to rub against my leg, as if to say, “I understand it all and I agree with you completely.” I immediately went home and painted The Nation. With no electricity, I painted by candlelight. This image has become a symbol of sorts – a sign of resistance to the homeland, the community, the nation.

     

  • Two Big Red Strobic Dogs

    Two Big Red Strobic Dogs

    1989, Oil on Canvas, Size: 98 x 79