To look upon a painting by Yuri is to transcend the time, distance, and faith that separate us. When face to face with one of his works, the possible oneness of the world is painted clearly for you across his canvas in vibrant reds, yellows, blues and greens. And, for one brief moment, all the chaos that is our modern way of life slips away and you are smiling.
Yuri Kuznetsov was born in Almet’evsk, Russia and as a child would visit his mother where she worked as a college professor of the arts. The cans of multicolored paints available to his mother’s students fueled Yuri’s imagination. Like many Russian artists, Yuri’s natural talents were apparent from an early age and those talents were nurtured. Being drawn to clean lines and precision, Yuri dreamed of becoming an architect. However, in his last year of high school, the artist within him took control of his destiny and he took the path of a painter. At the highly acclaimed and renowned Mukhina Art Academy in St. Petersburg, Yuri and fellow students were encouraged to develop an individual style to make their mark in contemporary art and in 1986 Yuri graduated.
During 1990 through 1998 Yuri exhibited with a group of young professional artists and poets from Sochi. They called themselves the “Guild of the Beautiful” and traveled to cities throughout Russia and Germany. Setting up in museums, galleries, theaters, even on the street if they had to, they coordinated more than 40 shows over the course of their nine years together. Their hope was to open the eyes of those who love the arts end even more so, those who do not and create a greater appreciation and insight of contemporary Russian art.
In 1998 Yuri came to United States for the first time under the auspices of the “People to People International Art Ambassador Program”. It was People to People’s aspiration to bring individuals together form across thousands of miles in the name of a common passion. As a winner of the competitions Yuri was invited to USA to Northridge College in California to participate in the event.
Yuri participated in around one hundred exhibitions in Sochi, Moscow, Germany, Vancouver, New York, Los Angeles, Chicago, Aspen, Telluride, Santa Fe. His works are in private collections throughout the world, including Sweden, Great Britain, Holland, Germany, Japan, France, Australia, New Zealand, Finland, USA and more.
With colors and patterns appealing to our inner child, his work feeds our basic human desire for happiness. Quoting the artist, “Of all the evils of the world, I choose none, I prefer not to show dark sides”. Instead, the world Yuri depicts on his canvases evokes a sense of paradise on earth, referencing the world of Henry Rousseau. Yuri’s world is beautiful, positive and kind. While Rousseau’s archaic style and grave icons were meant to model the tradition of classical painting, Yuri’s idyllic fantasy exists in a more graphic, simplified reality. Natural enemies of the food chain lie side by side or hold hands. For Yuri, these figures, these characters are touching and sympathetic, and most importantly they are amusing. The edges of their forms are painted in clean lines and their bodies fit together simply like a child’s puzzle.
Also influenced by the surrealists, especially by Rene Magritte, Yuri explores the meaning and relationship between painted and real objects, finding ways to bridge the gap between his reality and that of the real world. Like ancient artisans telling a story on cave walls, Yuri’s characters take all different sizes and shapes. Sometimes these dimensions and profiles suggest dominance amongst the figures; sometimes it suggests reality balanced precariously against caprice.
His Technique: He loves to mix different styles, techniques and textures. He desires his work to look decorative with a touch of humor. Yuri continuously makes small ink sketches and then selects which will be his next subject. He then primes a canvas and redraws the image in pencil on canvas. He makes a layer of modeling paste in some spots, next he paints the figures with acrylic, and later continues the process with oil paints. Applying acrylic under the oil paints gives the surface additional texture and enhances that enigmatic look he likes to achieve.