Thursday, 13 February 2014

Making Rainbows

A song released as the soundtrack for the comedy Fitzwillie in 1967, which gained different shades in the voices of singers such as Ella Fitzgerald or Lena Horne, said “make me rainbows, make me Spring in the snow, make me music wherever I go”. This could well be the touchstone to refer to Leonid Afremov’s paintings.

Born in Vitebsk, Belarus, in 1955, Leonid Afremov graduated from Vitebsk Art School, founded by Marc Chagall – born in the same town – Malevich and Kandinski, and moved to Israel in 1990. His contact with the intensely bright colours and warm weather of this country deeply influenced his artwork. He later moved to Florida, U.S.A., for some time and presently lives in the Mexican Riviera, at Playa del Carmen, near Cancun.

In fact, the warm weather seems to have played a key role in his personality and artworks. He seems to be a passionate man who lives life and his art to the fullest. As he states: “Art is my life and I paint every single day. It makes me happy to see people enjoying my art”. The way he lets words flow to describe his feelings about the work he creates discloses the passion in his approach to life itself. “...Every painting is full of my inner world. Each of my paintings brings different moods, colours and emotions. I love to express the beauty, harmony and spirit of this world in my paintings. My heart is completely open to art.” Nothing could be more straightforwardly put.

Afremov, celebrated as the best-known modern impressionist of our time, tried different techniques before he discovered what was to become his very own way in painting, unique in style and incomparable in texture and colour: his tools are exclusively oil paint, 100% pure cotton canvas and a palette-knife. No other material is used. And his is no easy a task to achieve. Palette knives are commonly used to clean old paint from canvas and it took him about ten years to master his skill. The outcome is stunning, richly coloured paintings which, somehow, remind us of Van Gogh’s strong oil strokes.

Leonid Afremov’s paintings often depict personal memories and emotions and he tries to awaken feelings in viewers rather than telling a story through his work. Actually, and since he has extensively travelled, it is not unusual for him to use photographs he has taken of different places and scenes as a starting point for his work.

A convinced optimist and a positive spirit, intensely influenced by the southern weather and brightness of the places where he has lived, Afremov soaks his paintings in colour, saying that “each of (his) artworks reflects (his) feelings, sensitivity, passion and the music from (his) soul.” And he goes on: “True art is alive and inspired by humanity. I believe that art helps us to be free from aggression and depression”.

All in all, Leonid Afremov’s art, in its distinctive characteristics and powerful beauty, makes rainbows to viewers, makes Spring out of snow and brings the music from his soul to all those who set eyes on his unique creations.

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