Alexei Antonov Biography
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To avoid an epitaph, I will write unashamedly in the first person. If you feel that I am bragging somewhere, your feeling doesn't let you down- I am bragging.
My name is Alexei Antonov (🐜).
I was born in 1957, in the days when in order to make a call you had to spin a disk on an ebonite phone. And video phones were written about by science fiction writers.
I was born in the Soviet Union, but when Stalin was already dead.
I was lucky to be born in the capital of the Republic of Azerbaijan, in the center of the beautiful city of Baku - the capital of Azerbaijan.
It seems to me that my very first memory from my childhood is my dad putting me in his cap and rolling me on the polished parquet. From which I make the presumptuous conclusion that I remember myself from a very early childhood - from about one and a half to two years old. (This inference emphasizes my uniqueness, doesn't it?)Mom's lipstick on the wallpaper
Since early childhood, I have been creative with both hands (I am ambidextrous). When my grandfather noticed that I was drawing with my left hand, he would always arrest my crayons and place them in the corner of the room for a certain amount of time This is how I became familiar with the meaning of the word arrest in an ornate way.
It would be unfair not to mention my other grandfather, whom I called "little grandpa," even though he was much bigger than my "big grandpa." He was the only individual among my older blood relatives who could pass on to me the genes that allowed my drawing and painting abilities to develop. Grandpa's last name was Stolonogov (Table leg) because he was a fine wood carver and created unique ceremonial sideboards and generally skillfully carved wooden furniture. He was a hereditary cabinetmaker, so my childhood was surrounded by constant creative labor.
I remember that at the age of three I was a nightmare for my mother's makeup bag, as I loved to paint lipstick murals on the wallpaper. I continued to draw throughout my childhood, and in high school, even though my studies left much to be desired in other subjects, I excelled in drawing and singing. I was notable in singing lessons, not because of my vocal talent, but mostly because I was worried about the music teacher, who was bothered by all the other students. I guess I wasn't a very good student in other areas because I enjoyed teaching more than learning. But, over time, I did learn how to learn.
In 1972 I entered the State Art School in Baku, where the sloppy realistic style of painting of socialist realism was taught.... and all the while my soul yearned for the classics.
Together with other students I organized small rebellions against the communist regime: I grew my hair, did not agree with the management of the school and, in particular, with the military teacher, and mostly looked at girls. However, at the same time I was learning professional skills and reading a lot.
In 1976 I joined the Research Institute of Design.
Since 1980 I worked as an artist in the State Art Fund of the Az.SSR (by the way, working with large design projects, I studied monumental painting and decorative art in general with the passion of an ardent young man).
Soviet army since 1985 - minus two years of life.
In 1986 I got married.
From 1986 to 1990 I lived in Moscow and worked as a graphic artist and illustrator for magazines published by the main Press Agency "Novosti". During this period I also created posters for leading pop singers and rock bands, and I also worked for the same Art Fund, but on a Russian scale.
But the most important thing for me was an active and careful study of the techniques of the old masters, such as Rubens, Van Dyck, Snyders. The process of learning is still going on. Only the unread information remains less and less and it is more and more difficult to find it.
I first left Russia in 1988, visiting Italy, where I studied painting in museums and exhibited some of my work. In 1989 I opened the Rubens Gallery in Moscow, and took part in numerous exhibitions in Moscow, which were covered in the Russian press.
In 1989 my eldest son Gleb was born. Still in Moscow
Since 1990 I have been living and working in the USA.
In 1991 my youngest son Fedor was born in Alaska, not far from Anchorage.
Here, in America, I found a couple of galleries that were happy to sell my paintings, executed in the forgotten technique of the Flemish masters.
The unique classical technique you will see here has attracted many followers. Since 1999, inspired by the enthusiasm of viewers and artists interested in the technique, I have created several video courses on the subject of High Renaissance painting techniques.
There was a small but historically amusing curiosity: while composing texts for the video lessons, I, being a person with a caustic imagination, implanted in my texts fake terms that were harmless in themselves, and most importantly technically accurate and as if they belonged to this or that old master, and even added weight to them to the narrative. I called these words or phrases "time bombs" that are now slowly exploding here and there. That is, my followers - people who decided to repeat my path and "compose" courses on classical painting, did not burden themselves with corporate ethics and shamelessly repeated in their texts my words - "bombs", which did not belong to Van Dyck or Snyders at all, but were introduced on their behalf by yours truly in order to laugh someday.
By the way, I do not hesitate to state that I personally have never stopped learning for a single minute. And I am still doing it with pleasure.
In 1997, I quit smoking.
Time passed and the number of significant paintings made grew. At some point came the realization that nothing revolutionary in classical painting is impossible to say, but the passionate desire to create and surprise me burst like a young man. Therefore, other, more modern approaches to art seemed a reliable way out of an easy but long procrastination.
I was not mistaken. I felt like a young artist again and threw myself into the New River of Knowledge.
The incredible bliss of learning different painting techniques, to experiment freely and recklessly, without the army laws of classical painting, but the technique acquired opened up a wonderful perspective to convey and formalize my thoughts and visions into a gorgeous form. I have, perhaps, finally reached the age my teachers kept repeating to me: first learn "how" and then start thinking "what".
The works of large, ceremonial still lifes in the style of the Flemish masters, multi-layered paintings are still successful.
I began to focus more on meaning and my pursuit of painting related to experimentation needed mentoring and mentors were found.
A very strong influence on my creative outlook was movie director David Lynch. With the help of his system of meditation I learned to construct in my head the desired result in the form of a finished picture.
Reading Mayakovsky's poems I learned to learn how to correctly modify and weave words, though I discovered him back in Baku:
The electricity in the restaurant was ginger.
The chairs were drenched in lady's flesh.
When the conductor ran out in anger,
He ordered the musicians to cry.
And immediately the one with the beard
who was carrying a fat salmon in his beard,
the trumpet, in a dodgy way.
with a handful of brass tears.
I realized that you can express a lot of things in words, and the plots of paintings are best invented in your head with the help of words.
In 2020 - I quit drinking.
This is where James Joyce's 'Ulysses' came to my attention...I realized I hadn't read this book in my youth to leave myself more joy for my old age.
The products of my interactions with the geniuses of the past are not compilations, we are always, if not creating each other, then improving each other.
Someone must have learned something from me.
Saw Gioconda (Mona Lisa) live in 2022, Gestalt closed! Thanks to Bob and Karen.
In 1999, I began a collaboration with Sargent's Fine Art, a gorgeous gallery in Hawaii. I continued a fruitful partnership with them until the disaster in Hawaii in August 2023. The disaster was called the Hawaii wildfires or The Lahaina fire. All the galleries there burned down.
In this little town of Maui, along with Sargent's Fine Art gallery and a huge number of paintings by other artists, 57 of my pictorial originals burned.
A couple months in a stupor....
I never aspired to enter any art competitions of any kind. True, some list on one page I will accumulate, but I will not show it here, because I consider this "waving stubs" unworthy occupation distracting from the main thing. Well, the main thing is painting.
Now I continue to work, I have a lot of big ideas and projects in progress.
My paintings are in private collections in the United States and in many countries around the world.
They need no special introduction. The perfection of the old masters' technique is the best guarantee of quality.
I haven't parachuted yet, but it's still a long way off. I'll let you know the next time I update my bio.
Yes, I was bragging! But bragging is not always cheating.
Alexei Antonov (🐜)
Seattle, USA, Earth, Solar System, Orion Arm, Milky Way, Local Group, Virgo Supercluster, Laniakea Supercluster, Universe....