THE ARTIST'S CREDO
To reflect the world in the mirror of the metaphor - this is the goal of the artist. Metaphor does not only belong to linguistic communication but can also be found in our daily life. Metaphor is the means of communication that we live by. First of all, the metaphor is aimed at the viewer's feelings and subconscious. It gives full rein to imagination, as it is the imagination that creates the connections between two seemingly different things. "Imagination is more important than knowledge. Knowledge has its limitations, while imagination has no limits." ~Albert Einstein Metaphor leaves the mind open to grasp onto the hidden likeness of things and events. And the more distant these things are, the greater the effect. The unexpectedness of the connection and sudden insight, which takes your breath away, is the true measure of the painting's value, according to the artist. Different from art that leaves us in speechless admiration (realism) or suggests we solve a puzzle made of symbols (abstract art), metaphorical art challenges our subconscious with the symbolism of artifacts. Any metaphor has its own story to tell. Metaphor "sees" through centuries, unveiling the images of the world and connecting notions created by civilization. At the same time, metaphor can easily reflect the complexities of our modern life, with its ambiguity and contradictions.
The painter's mission is to find a metaphorical "parallel" for every side of real life. The element of unexpectedness will shake up the viewer and awaken his artistic nature. The artist believes that the viewer's insight comes at once. It is not about discovering something new. His concept is similar to that of Plato who believed there is an ideal world, a "cave" that human souls once dwelled in. The "cave" retained their core ideas of things after they left. Therefore, the insight that comes when viewing art is a recollection of that. The artist's role is to stimulate this subconscious process of remembering through his art.
ABOUT THE ARTIST
Vladimir Kush is one of the most original artists of our time. Through hard work and talent, he became the founder of a new branch of art - metaphorical realism –, which is showcased throughout the world and in several of his own galleries. In 25 years (17 years since Santa Monica...), he transformed himself from a struggling artist who earned his living by drawing portraits on the beaches of Santa Monica, to a major artist recognized on both sides of the Atlantic. Vladimir’s American odyssey began in 1990 when he chose not to return to Russia and flew to Los Angeles. His first few years in the United States required a lot of perseverance and hard work. Finding oneself, the ebb and flow of artistic ideas, and the search for a style of your own is a long and winding path that remains hidden from the public eye. It runs in the dark, like the inner workings of the mind – the depths of subconscious – and must mature like a chrysalis on its way to becoming a butterfly. This is a critical stage of development during a formative time in the life of an artist. At the end of nearly a decade of unceasing effort in a foreign land, 1998 brought the starting point of Vladimir’s success as a professional artist and the founder of a new art style. By that time his most notable works – Wind, Fauna in La Mancha, Bound for Distant Shores, Nero, Sunrise by the Ocean, Music of the Woods, Candle, Atlas of Wander, and others – formed the defining examples of his method and laid the foundation for metaphorical realism. In 2001, with the opening of the first of his galleries in Lahaina on the Hawaiian Island of Maui, the American cultural environment accepted the artist and his vision. Metaphorical realism and the Kush Fine Art brand were established. It is worth noting that he settled on an exotic island in the Pacific, of which he dreamed as a boy but could not visit from behind the Iron Curtain that was the Soviet Union. Now KFA owns a number of large high-end galleries across the United States and has permanent exhibitions worldwide.
One of the strongest motives behind Vladimir’s continuing hard work is knowing that he is the only American artist of Russian origin in the United States who is not only productive, but also a successful and independent manager of his own enterprise in a country with a highly competitive environment. His enormous everyday efforts were rewarded in producing more than 150 paintings (not counting drawings, watercolors, designs, etc., since the publication of Metaphorical Journey, his last book) and 50 sculptures and jewelry pieces. Collectors and admirers of his art come from all over the world, as well as imitators and forgers. Original paintings are purchased quickly, sometimes as early as when the subject of a future piece is announced. At this point, the priming is still fresh on the canvas but the concept has taken life in the artist’s imagination. The success of Vladimir’s artwork has much to do with the unexpectedness of the subject and its freedom from any constraints of location or bias. He is therefore rightly referred to as the ‘artist of the world’. In this, Vladimir follows one of the injunctions in Salvador Dali’s 50 Secrets of Magic Craftsmanship that suggests you stick to your own vision, your own style…this will come in handy if you become an artist.
International recognition came to Vladimir in 2012, at the Artistes du Monde – Cannes Exposition Internationale, when he received the prestigious First Prize in Painting, which was presented to him by Marina Picasso. However, it is the recognition of collectors and admirers that Vladimir appreciates most. His paintings are inspiring young artists and appealing to professional writers and musicians, who incorporate his images on the covers of their releases and books. The main focus of Vladimir’s art has always been in painting and drawing, and yet the ideas that have grown on the flat surface of the canvas have gradually acquired one more dimension and transitioned into 3D space. Turned out in bronze, silver, and gold, strengthened by the shine of patina or the sparkle of precious stones, they received their shape and reached their fullness in metaphorical sculpture and jewelry.
There are but a few branches of contemporary art that can undergo this kind of transfer. Metaphorical realism is so rich in ideas that the images it creates find their place in virtual reality too: in 2014 an electronic coloring book entitled "Aries the Sheep" was created for AppleTM users. This app was such a success with children all over the globe that it won the Ehon Award in Tokyo after being chosen from more than 200 electronic childrens' books from all over the world, games, and educational programs. Another interactive project – The Story 1&0 – followed in 2016. For Vladimir Kush, working with children goes beyond creating games and stories. He believes that children have an intact “inner region of fantasy,” which can be lost as we get closer to adulthood. At maturity, this imaginative ability is replaced by the practical drive for survival and the everyday dynamics of life. Therefore, works by the artist can be used successfully to help develop cognitive abilities.
Among more than 200 entries for “Where Does the Sun Go?” a creative work competition organized by Kush Fine Art as part of the School Community Partnership Program of Nevada, many participants presented a deep interpretation of the title subject and were highly regarded by the founder of metaphorical realism. This program highlighted how perceptive a child’s mind is of everything that surrounds us. Henry Miller recognized that although people think they are surrounded by the facts of life, they don't realize that they are walking through the forest of symbols. Our thinking is, in essence, metaphorical. We use metaphors every day in spoken language – often without realizing that the impact from the visual metaphor may be even more powerful than the spoken metaphor. Vladimir Kush’s style of metaphorical realism is an evolution of this thought process. However, no contemporary style can rescue a bad painting, so it is worth remembering one more dictum from Dali, the great master: “Begin by learning to draw and paint like the old masters”
MY FATHER: OLEG KUSH
My father grew up extremely nearsighted forced to speculate the large world around him through his imagination. Poor life conditions and the inability to travel due to the "iron curtain," further assisted the development of his ingenuity. Competing with his older brother, he found the most exotic and mysterious names on the world map but got scolded for drawing from his imagination while his brother, copying squares was praised. Because of his shortsighted eyes, his time with classmates was limited, but after school he submerged himself into a much bigger world of literature, poetry and art. Attempting to overcome his inabilities he participated in hardcore sports like boxing. He tricked the trainer for medical clearance but, not being able to see his competitors well, had to employ his intuition.
Eventually Oleg attended tech school studying mathematics and physics despite his natural inclination towards art. In Ancient Greece, mathematics was considered to be one of art's expressions. Indeed, my father was the one who taught me that the "visual metaphor," or idea, should be as transparent as a formula or equation. A "good metaphor" is essentially a formula because it connects seemingly distant notions. Oleg later became the leading scientist at the Lighting and Optical Research Institute as a Differential Equations Specialist, while his other passions still lay among poetry, literature and art.
I remember sitting on my father's lap continuing the compositions he had started on large pieces of paper: a landscape with a person walking by, a boat on a river, a car passing on a road and onto a bridge... Later, my parents found an instructor who directed us to one of the most reputable art schools. My father frequently met me after school and we went to see various exhibitions. When I was 12, we found ouselves waiting in a line for 4 hours to see an "alternative" show of 20 avant-garde artists. The exhibit was like a fresh wind among a sea of stagnation. Some of the artists at the show worked in the surrealistic genre, obviously familiar with Dali and Magritte, totally unknown to the general public in the Soviet Union at that time. The impact of the paintings seen at a glimpse from behind the crowds was phenomenal and my father encouraged me to start experimenting with surrealistic ideas.
In 1990 my father discouraged me from coming back to Russia after a successful exhibition in Germany and urged me instead to continue my voyage westward and cross the Atlantic. In 2001 side-by-side, my new companion and I painted the walls of the new gallery space in Lahaina, giving birth to Kush Fine Art as a business. Since then, Oleg elaborates on the concepts with books, stories, art descriptions, apps and KFA staff training. The watercolor painting of the sheep covered in seashells triggered him to write the story of "Aries the Sheep" which became an app and a children's book. Since that story, he has written over 15 more requiring my Illustration! The scope of stories should be incorporated into a book of its own. He is now working on new books, rewritting texts and descriptions for each painting.