Vivianite – Alex Kanevsky Interview

Since I am no where near talented enough to interview someone as amazing as Alex Kanevsky, whom we featured here quite a ways back before, it seems, he really got super famous. Since his explosion into the popular art world, he has a lot to say now, which is brilliantly interviewed by the blog Vivianite.  I’ve taken some tidbits here and there and posted them, all credit going to the people at Vivianite of course, and to read the full interview click here or follow the link at the end.


Vivianite: Your use of motion, light and color is truly stunning, how did you invent or learn your technique?
Alex Kanevsky: I didn’t really invent or learn it as a technique. I am a slow learner, so it developed over a long time. I am also fairly slow when it comes to actual painting. Slow but impatient. That can be a problem, but over time I figured out how to turn this contradiction into my own way of working. I can’t do slow and methodical accumulation painting: I get bored with careful, planned sort of activity. I also depend on freshness of perception, what zen-buddists call “beginner’s mind”. That is difficult to sustain over a long period. After a while you are just not a beginner. So I work fast, trying to hit the right note every time. That is nearly impossible, so I constantly fail. But I keep coming back to a painting. It accumulates layers, each one – more or lass a complete painting. Complete but failed. The layers are sort of like Swiss cheese – they have holes through which in right places you can see the previous layers. Eventually there are enough of “good holes” and also, because of all the repeated attempts, I manage to do a good top layer. And then I have a painting that has enough intensity in every passage to satisfy me. Then it is done.

You have said, “Everything is in motion. Fast motion”; could you go into detail about how you are thinking?
Well, everything IS in motion. “Fast” is a relative thing, of course. You know, glass in a window is actually a form of liquid. It is very slowly cascading down the window frame. That is why, you often see glass with slight wrinkles in very old window panes. People, whom I paint, are never still. They want to move, they are built for motion. It is actually painful for models to be still longer than 20 minutes. I like them, I find them endlessly fascinating, how they are built, the way they grow and shrink over time, how they move, act, express their emotions, etc. So I want to paint them the way they are, and to me they are defined by their motion. A brick is defined by its shape and people are defined by their motion.


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