In NewsWhistle’s weekly question-and-answer series, Clara Morgan speaks with some of her favorite influencers and finds out more about their lives and careers. This week, Clara speaks with Alexey Klokov, a world renowned artist and contemporary expressionist.
Klokov was born in 1965 in Russia. The impetus to navigate his own way in the world of art was influenced by his first teacher, the famous abstract expressionist of the 20th century, Anatoly Zverev. Certified in 1991 as an artist and art restorer by Saint Petersburg Higher School of Art and Industry, Alexey worked in restoration workshops of the Hermitage (Saint Petersburg) and Tretyakov Gallery (Moscow) where he was literally “in touch” with the masterpieces of the world’s great artists, including Van Gogh, Matisse, Picasso, and others, allowing him to learn from them “without words.”
In 1994, Alexey Klokov took residence in a monastery, devoting himself to icon-painting. It was there that he explored the secrets of gilding and the great power of symbolism embodied in the image. After four years of consistent work he had the confidence and readiness to embark on his own artistic career. Without the use of preliminary sketches and by combining different genres, Alexey relies his improvisation in the creation of his paintings. Art and spirituality are interconnected in Klokov’s extraordinary career path. He is absolutely convinced that the purpose of the artist is to create images that enrich our lives with new meanings, spirituality, and joy. The paintings serve as a starting point embodying the secret desires hidden within our minds and changing our lives in a right direction.
Since, he has exhibited worldwide throughout Russia, the US, Japan, the UK, and Austria. With the relocation of his exclusive agent and wife Naira Velumyan to Canada, the North American audience has been introduced to his new collection of enamel on linen paintings titled “Suggestive Abstract.” The art embodies a uniqueness that is simultaneously suggestive and subliminal, and through its many shapes and forms, the artwork is subject to the onlooker’s personal interpretation.
Portrait of Alexey Klokov by Anton Kiselev
1. When and how did you first realize that you wanted to work in the industry and business you are in?
I lived on the bank of a river and as a small child spent much time with my pencil and pad doing sketches of beautiful landscapes. It was a calling! At the same time my father worked as an illustrator for a small factory in rural Russia. With a keen interest in his work I would rush to his workplace after school where he would let me finish some of the illustrations. This was my first “in touch” experience with the world of art.
2. Any celebrity clients or memorable stories related to your business that you want to share?
My first exhibition was in 1998 in Moscow and was a reflection of my experience in a monastery. The guest of honor, designer Paco Rabanne, deeply connected with the spirituality of my artwork. His two purchases were the first of my career. His advice to me that night was “Don’t stop creating!” Forty years prior, he received similar advice from Salvador Dali.
3. What is a typical day like for you? And what do you like to do on a day off?
The majority of my time I spend in my Moscow studio where the canvas and my imagination can work as one. Art has no vacation! The paintings I create must be positive, bring joy to the household, and help in solving problems. My overall process is intuitive in nature and to ensure that I can get from the non-verbal level to the material plane means that I should always have a canvas and paint on hand. Outside distractions affect the creative process, which is why public interaction and business dealings are handled by my wife and exclusive agent, Naira Velumyan. Always in the public, she is my voice outside of the studio.
PIROUETTES OF RED WHALE, 2015, Oil on canvas, 70×90 cm
4. What is the next big thing in your industry? What are people doing differently today, compared to 10-15 years ago?
The traditional tight-knit art community is being replaced by a much wider global viewing audience. With globalization, art no longer belongs to one country or city. Technology has changed our lives and the world of art. It is both a blessing and a bane at the same time. In my opinion, the connection between the viewer and the artwork should be personal and up close. The dynamic of today’s life has deprived us of this opportunity which has been replaced by the internet.
5. What are your three favorite restaurants in the city where you currently reside? And what is it you like about these places?
I don’t frequent restaurant but love to cook in the studio. I do love Georgian, Chinese, and Mediterranean food.
6. What are your three favorite bars in the city where you currently reside? And what is it you like about these places?
I do not have specific preferences, especially since I do not drink. In general, for me, the main thing is not where, but with people that I am close to.
GOOD NEWS, 2014, Series Awakening, Oil on canvas, 70×90 cm
7. What are your three favorite locations to visit in the city where you currently reside? And what is it you like about these places?
I currently reside in Moscow and cultural life is extensive:
– Pushkin State Museum of Fine Arts, which exhibits a huge collection of foreign art from ancient to modern times. I like to wander through the grand halls viewing the most famous paintings of Rembrandt, Goya, Renoir, Monet, Picasso, Matisse, and others.
– Tretyakov Gallery, which features a collection of Russian art and where I was employed as a restorer for a duration of two years after my graduation. This place holds many memories for me. Many of my mentors worked here and are no longer alive because the materials they used in the restoration process were toxic and subsequently shortened their lifespans.
– My studio is located in the heart of Moscow, in the historic district. I like to wander around the local streets, feel and listen to the bustle, touch the grandeur of the architectural monuments and go to the numerous churches.
8. Which three events on your annual calendar will you will absolutely not miss? And what is so special about these events?
Circumstances are much more significant to me than events therefore I put much less emphasis on calendar dates.
9. What was your best New York moment? Your worst?
I have not visited New York yet but my wife very much loves the energy of the city and its similarities to Moscow.
– Her best moment was standing at the corner of 42nd street and Broadway at 2.30 a.m. in the city that never sleeps, just as Moscow. It’s an emotion that is hard to describe! Amidst the perceived chaos she still felt so much order, community, and freedom.
– Her worst moment was parking, trying to find a space. No big city is perfect!
GREEN DOG WITH SQUARE HEAD, 2014, Oil on canvas, 70×90 cm
10. Tell us something that people do not know about you.
My wife has a PhD in Psychology. She is always the first to view, describe, and interpret the symbolism in my artwork. When choosing a painting, a person without his knowledge is making a subconscious choice. It can be a single line or a color or a point that is very individual. My wife helps people in making this choice based on their internal needs, ensuring that each image works for a person.
11. How would you describe your personal (fashion) style?
I am a fashion minimalist, and I select my clothes purely based on convenience. Since I don’t appear in public that often it has little value to me. However, my wife, who spends more time in public, is more selective. She prefers an eclectic style, which I would call a “comrade” Coco Chanel look. This is a feminine style with elements of the military.
12. Who is your style icon? Where do you find your style inspiration?
It probably sounds strange, but I consider my children to be my “style icons.” From previous marriages we have three children and how ironic that now they are teaching us. They seem to keep up with the latest trends and critically evaluate us daily.
IN THE PRESENCE OF THE CREATOR, 2015, Oil on canvas, 70×90 cm
13. Who is your favorite fashion designer, artist or architect – and why?
– Of architects, my favorite is the great Spanish architect Antonio Gaudi. Amidst his desire to find new shapes, his main objective was always the juxtapositioning of form and function. Although his structures exceed a hundred years old, surprisingly they blend in with today’s look.
– As for artists, it’s actor Tom Hanks. I share his family and religious values and identify with his privacy, and consider him an unconditional genius, infinitely in love with what he does. I love his laconic roles, when the character is transmitted through other non-verbal sources. In my opinion, few actors are able to communicate to the audience on such an emotional level without words! I strive to communicate through my paintings and hopefully they speak louder than me.
14. Name your favorite… and tell us why:
My favorite outfit is a striped blue and white long sleeved t-shirt. I was serving in paratroops and such a t-shirt was part of our uniform. As for my wife, it is leather pants. She can wear them from morning till evening and pairs them with everything.
I do not have specific preferences, but it’s always citrusy scents. It can be Paco Rabanne with the smell of lemon and orange, Dior or Jo Malone with the smell of grapefruit, or Mont Blanc with the smell of mandarin. My wife is more consistent in choosing fragrances. She uses Amouage and has been loyal to this brand for many years.
As a psychologist, my wife is very selective with movies. There is a subdivision in psychology called “movie therapy” which she has been educated in. Recent movies she recommended to me were The Shack and Hacksaw Ridge.
d. TV show.
In our family, the TV receives little attention, but more often than not the most watched is news.
I prefer the Russian and American classics — Gogol, Pushkin, Dostoyevsky, Chekhov, Nabokov, London, Hemingway, Fitzgerald, Drayzer, Salinger … These books write about values that are eternal and pass the test of time. My mother managed a bookstore and loved to repeat the words of Italo Calvino: “A classic is a book that has never been finished.”
15. What is your favorite restaurant in the world? What is it you love about it and what is your favorite dish?
For restaurants I like the Hawksmoor chain which I feel has the best steaks in London; I lived there for a couple years and found that their presentation was unsurpassed. My wife who resides in Toronto loves Chueng Moi that specializes in hakka fusion.
L’OISEAU BLEU, 2016, Enamel on linen, 28″x32″, (70x80cm)
16. Name your favorite vacation spot and hotel? What makes these places so special?
It’s the Ritz Carlton with the scent of expensive French fragrances. I am connected with this London hotel in that a few times I painted publicly there with an audience and cameras on site.
17. Which three items can you not live without?
Studio, canvas, paint.
18. What song, meditation or mantra can you listen to on repeat? And why?
I love the music of Beethoven.
COMPLETE COUPLING, 2016, Enamel on linen, 35″x28″ (90x70cm)
19. If you could meet anyone in the world, who would you like to meet? And why?
Something that I’ve always wanted to do were 50 individual 12 ft. x 21 ft. paintings which depict the history of each US state (past to current). The paintings would embody the feel and style experienced in the famous Guernica by Picasso. Such an undertaking would probably require financial and administrative support from the government. So as to who I’d like to meet; possibly a chance encounter with the current President of the United States.
20. Is there anything else you would like to share, discuss or promote?
In North America, few people are aware that I create individual paintings that fulfill desires. It is a form of art where the elements of human individuality, energy flow and vibrations, are embodied on the canvas in “color language” with a symbolic meaningful content. These paintings are called ILG (Image, Line, Gold). Imagine that a person seated in front of me with his deep personal thoughts and desires. I act as a mediator, projecting the aura that is visible to me on the canvas. Next, the person takes this painting home and the painting starts to connect with him. This is not just a miracle, everything has a logical explanation, known as “visualization of desires.” My wife has described this process in terms of psychology, and in truth it does work!
To learn more about Alexey Klokov and his art, please visit http://www.alexklokov.com/
BIRD OF FORTUNE, 2016, Enamel on linen, 35″x28″, (90x70cm)
Photos Courtesy of Alexey Klokov; Portrait of Alexey Klokov by photographer Anton Kiselev; Lead-In Image – SPRING SOLO (below), 2014, Oil on canvas, 70×90 cm