Coming to the United States at age 18 as a Jewish refugee from Moscow, artist Alex Arshansky has lived in Arizona, London, Lisbon, Los Angeles and San Diego, where he currently resides. Over the years, Arshansky has become known for his Biomorphic Abstraction style of art, which he describes as “organic elements that flow and morph.”
Arshansky recently opened his latest exhibit, Abducting Reality, at Sparks Gallery in downtown San Diego, which incorporates palmistry and conceptual randomness into his work. In the exhibit, Arshansky captures the eyes and minds of art lovers with colorful, figurative and abstract works that will be on display at the gallery through March 24.
PACIFIC chatted with Arshansky between paintings to find out more about palmistry, preconceived notions, and his ethos of art.
PACIFIC: What is your process when you are creating?
ALEX ARSHANSKY: Generally, when I work, I rely on random process. For me to speak the language artistically, I go into a trance state, I don’t pay too much attention. I go into observer mode, and I just watch it. The painting comes together by itself and I watch in awe. I am channeling the artistic process rather than forcing it. I believe randomness isn’t randomness at all. When we are attuned to it, it allows the picture from the puzzle pieces.
What does “Abducting Reality” refer to?
I also rely on randomness even when I title paintings. Sometimes I delegate the names to Facebook, and I ask friends and visitors. For this one, I said, “I am going to turn on the TV and the next interesting phrase (that surfaces), that will be the name of the show.” The CNN commentator says, “He has abducted our reality.”
What are your thoughts about our current reality?
It’s been a difficult year for us as individuals, as a country; we are coming to a reality where our core principles are being challenged. Are we going to sit still or do something? There is a certain renaissance and I feel it coming.
For the average person, how do you describe Biomorphic Abstraction?
There are biological, botanical elements that organically transition from one to the other. It is a type of cubism, seeing things from multiple points of view. But I rely on multiple views of emotional impact. Instead of more angular and geometric, I rely on more organic elements that flow and morph.
You have created close to 1,000 works in 11 years, are you painting all of the time?
I paint all the time. I do work on five to six pieces at the same time; some go at a slow pace, some are more exciting. Every painting deserves to be complete. These paintings are my children; and I very much feel. And when they are sold, they become silent family members and they have a piece of me in their life. There is something warming and special about that.
Tell us about your journey here to the United States.
It was 1994, it was always bad for Jews in Soviet times, and my life was at risk. I was about to be drafted for the war in Chechnya. We were sent to Tucson (Arizona), and my work was more photorealistic. Now, some say my work reminds them of Mayan art, and I feel like my soul returned home. Ironically, I can’t paint anything else. That is the language I speak. But it’s challenging and you do become a hostage.
How does palmistry fit into your painting?
(It appears in) quite (a few) paintings nowadays. I do have palms and hands in the works, I put signs, directions of fingers.
What attracts you to palmistry?
Your hand is like a weather channel. When we travel, we make decisions made on the forecast. This is not true data but calculated projection. Is it so uncanny to think your brain has the same ability for you? That it can calculate your life, your patterns, and secrets? We are all parts of a puzzle, together we create the face of God. People who find their path are a lot happier and rewarded for it. Green lights and parking spaces.
What should someone look for when they see an Arshansky?
I like to please the eye while challenging the mind. There are many pieces combined to tell you something. People say “I found this face” and I didn’t plan it. What happens is what you see. I don’t want them to have preconceived notions, I don’t want to pollute their mind with my subjective way of thinking or vision. I want it to be pure, since I channel it out, it’s not mine anymore. I look at the work, I know I have created it, but it’s like a grown child, it has a life of its own. I want the person to see that.
Is there a piece in the exhibition you are most proud of, most want to bring to the attention to the audience?
I must say I would like people to see the abstract works; they are a delight for the eye. Art has a therapeutic quality. I want to brighten someone’s day, and when I paint I mentally channel that. I want to make someone feel better, and smile. I engrave that into my work.
Final thoughts on art as a whole?
Art is not about fame or money, it’s about creating something that creates a chain reaction. I allow the universe to channel the information through, and someone will be able to understand what’s encoded. Otherwise what’s the point? To make pretty pictures? It’s about one person being able to touch another.
When: Through March 24
Where: Sparks Gallery, 530 Sixth Ave., downtown
More info: 619.696.1416, sparksgallery.com
Follow the artist: arshansky.com