Vera Falenko, Contributing Editor

Interview: Featured Artist Nikolay Vryasov

Russian realist and landscape painter Nikolay Vryasov was born in April 28, 1987 in a small village called Idrinskoye that lies to the south of Krasnoyarsk. In 2012, he graduated from Surikov’s Art School of Krasnoyarsk and continued his formation in Ilya Glazunov’s Russian Academy of Painting, Sculpture and Architecture. The majority of his works are in the Academy fund. Nikoliay often participates in different exhibitions and art projects both in Russia and Abroad. 

Falenko for O:JA&L: Nikolay, as a way of introduction, could you tell us how you became an artist, have you always been attracted by art?

Nikolay Vryasov: As it happens, when I was about 10, my mother, my sister and I lost our parents and it was our grandparents who took care of us. They did all they could to give us an opportunity to dedicate our lives to what we really love – it’s something to be grateful for… I got interested in art when I was 13. My younger brother was studying in a Children’s Art School and once their group went on a drawing session to a village – I can’t remember its name now – and the teachers offered me to go along. Having been through this trip I realized that I wanted to study in an Art School too.

Siberian Open Spaces by Nikolay Vryasov

Falenko for O:JA&L: Where did you get the artistic formation? 

Nikolay Vryasov: When I graduated from the Art School, one of my tachers recommended me to continue my studies in Surikov’s Art School of Krasnoyarsk. And I got a place there, but for reasons unknown I could study there. Might be that me – a village boy – got lost in a big city? Might be I was homesick? I don’t know, but having spent half a year there I returned home.

Then my brother also finished his studies in the Art School and wanted to go to a college. So, we decided to move to Munusinsk a city not far from our village. There we went to an Art College and studied in the faculty of applied arts. But again, after a year, we quit and just lived in the city, though I would often think about studies. After a while I remembered the Surikov’s Art School and a desire to learn awoke again.

In 2007 I went to Krasnoyarsk again and started again, but this time I was so much absorbed in the student life that it was easier. I still keep in touch with some of my groupmates. And the professors were just great.

After I graduated, I decided to go to Ilya Glazunov’s Russian Academy of Painting, Sculpture and Architecture. It is in this academy where having passed the third-year program we had division according to the studios. There were three – studio of history and religion, studio of portrays and the studio where I studied, that of landscape. The head of my studio was Afonin Alexander – a great painter and a good person.

During my studies in the Academy, I participated in different exhibitions and in my fifth year my wife Alyona – who is also a painter – made my personal exhibition in Kolomenskoye in Tsar Alexis I (also Alexei Mikhailovich Romanov – note by O:JA&L).

Now I decided to change the direction and try teaching. I am currently working in Dmitriy Hvorostovskiy’s Siberian State University of Arts. This year, I’ve got a place in the art studio at Russian Academy of Arts in Krasnoyarsk, division Ural, Siberia and the Far East. Here I have also been given a studio for three years with a condition that I regularly participate in exhibitions.

Khitrovsky Lane by Nikolay Vryasov

Falenko for O:JA&L: Once you mentioned that you lived in Divnogorsk. Why did you chose this city? 

Nikolay Vryasov: When I was studying in the Academy in Moscow, I knew that I would go back to Siberia and Divnogorsk – my wife’s town. I met Alyona when I was a third-year, we spent much time together. Once we went to her town and I realized that I was in love with both Alyona and the town. It is as if Divnogorsk was hiding between a forest and a group of mountains in company of the Yenissei river. As you understand, the nature whispers art there.

Spring is Close by Nikolay Vryasov

Falenko for O:JA&L: The majority of your paintings have nature as the central theme. Why do you choose to talk about it? 

Nikolay Vryasov: My native village is located in a very picturesque place, Krasnoyarskiy Region is full of beautiful landscapes in general. Of course, 99% of my works are dedicated to nature and having grown up among such beauty you can’t talk about anything else. This nature is the beauty, the might and the mystery I talk about in my works.

When I was a child nobody understood me. People couldn’t understand that a 15-year old boy wanders around mountains and forests with some strange box (a sketch box). But I like it, that way I can spend time alone with myself.

Now I am developing the motive of Siberia in my paintings. I want to show people the grace and might, the severity and kindness of the local nature. And the colors – you can’t imagine the intensity of them until you see!

Siberian Landscape by Nikolay Vryasov

Falenko for O:JA&L: What do you think is the mission of a painter in the modern society? 

Nikolay Vryasov: A painter’s mission has always been the same throughout the history. It is to fill the spiritual aspect of people’s lives with beauty and kindness, and to achieve this, you must always be sincere with your audience and yourself.

Falling Asleep by Nikolay Vryasov

Falenko for O:JA&L: You works are quite traditional and conservative, but what do you think about the modern art, the things that are written and drawn nowadays? 

Nikolay Vryasov: The concept of art is becoming ambiguous sometimes even loses its sense. Everybody can write and paint and create, but when amateur claims to be an artist it is the same if a nurse, having listened to several lectures will claim to be a surgeon. Any task, any work needs time and experience that comes from practice. People don’t have any idea how much we study; all our life represents learning. A person who truly loves his/her trade will live on it and constantly develop, no matter what.

We should also ask ourselves: “what is modern art?” For me, it is in all present genres, and I am a part of it, though we traditionally call a style that way…

New Year’s Outfit by Nikolay Vryasov

Falenko for O:JA&L: Which of your paintings you like most, which you would call the most well-known? 

Nikolay Vryasov: All my works are special in their own way as I put all I have in them, all my emotions and most importantly, my time. All my works are special, some of them I even detest.

As it happens, that in the process of working something goes wrong and you dislike where you’re heading. But if you just leave the work, it will finish after a while, though a feeling of imperfection lingers. Perhaps it is this feeling that drives me further and helps painting new works and gives me ideas.

Moscow Landscape by Nikolay Vryasov

Falenko for O:JA&L: Tell us more about the process of painting. What materials do you usually use? What are the typical themes? 

Nikolay Vryasov: In my works, I like to experiment with different materials. In general I work with oil, oil and dry pastel, with water colors and gouache. In some paintings I combined them, for example, water colors + gel pen, oil + oil pastel or tempera + dry pastel.

I don’t have a typical motive, I have the most loved ones and these are landscape in general and the Siberian landscape in particular.

I never have a schedule when working on a painting. When I do, the most important is to draw, to paint and deem every day on what I am working at.

Some time ago, we worked with Nevskiy Batalist (Historical and artistic art project from St. Petersburg, create three-dimensional panoramas and dioramas – note by note by O:JA&L). Thanks to them, I learnt to work with big spaces and to make property. I also got new skills and use them in my works.

Twilight by Nikolay Vryasov

Falenko for O:JA&L: Talking about experience,  you’ve participated in the project “The Circulating Academy of Arts in region of Italy and France”. Tell us what working so far from home was like? What did you learn in the journey? 

Nikolay Vryasov: The most valuable experience I got in course of the project “The Circulating Academy of Arts in region of Italy and France” is working in short period of time. We were given very little time to learn the land and feel its vibes. It is as an actor needs to live through his character’s experience before playing his role.

Working there was extremely hard as till then I was lucky and never had time frame to finish my paintings, or a purchaser that would tell me what I should paint and how. When I was working in Italy I felt that something was needed from me and this feeling was new.

As I was far from home and didn’t have much time, I didn’t bring anything worthy from the journey. The only things left from Italy are some sketches and nice memories.

A Meeting. Mana and Yenisei by Nikolay Vryasov

Falenko for O:JA&L: What can give you a push to work on something new? 

Nikolay Vryasov: I can be inspired by any work of art. It can be music, cinema and many other things. It’s strange, but I am also inspired greatly by people and communication with them, and, of course, nature is a great source of new things.

There are things that influence my paintings, for example, works of other artists especially impressionists and realists.

Zarisovka: Sketch by Nikolay Vryasov

Falenko for O:JA&L: Where can we see your paintings? 

Nikolay Vryasov: Unfortunately, none of my works is in a permanent exhibition and as I have already said, the majority of the are in the funds of art schools and academies where I studied. But, of course, I have accounts in social networks where you can see what they are like.

Victory by Nikolay Vryasov

Falenko for O:JA&L: Do you have any new works planned? 

Nikolay Vryasov: I have a lot of ideas and there are also many other things I’d like to try. I hope in time everything will works out. For now I’d like to make a collective exhibition with my brother Maxim (sculptor – note by O:JA&L) and my wife and artists Alyona Kazurkina.

Travelling can also be useful for an artist – that way I get more material and ideas for the future works. In general, all my plans go down to one phrase – work, hard as this is, is what makes us richer both physically and spiritually. 


About the interviewer:
Vera Falenko is a 2017 graduate of the Moscow Aviation Institute, a State University. She is a native Russian speaker and a language specialist with fluency in English (English level C2, according to the European frame) and Spanish (Spanish level C1). She is a senior teacher of foreign languages at Alibra School, a private institution in Moscow. Falenko provides selected Russian and Spanish translations for our readers in the Eurozone and in eastern Europe. She maintains an independent book review site, offering book reviews in three languages.

Images: All images courtesy of Nikolay Vryasov.