It takes courage to change one’s life and career: there are very few people who are capable of such a radical step in their mid-life. Among today’s artists, the most famous is, perhaps, Jeff Koons, who worked as a Wall Street commodities broker and then abandoned his trade for his art and gained recognition as a leading contemporary artist. Our protagonist is yet at the very beginning of his artistic career path. For ten years Sergey Kozlov had been working as financial consultant and auditor and then asked himself a simple question: if money was no object, who would he really like to be? He immediately knew the answer: an artist. He has been painting for a year and a half since that fateful move, and exhibited his works in various cities, including Barcelona and Dubai. He was very quickly noticed by art critics, who saw references to such leading exponents of the abstract genre as Jackson Pollock and Cy Twombly, whose famous “Bacchus” series are flashing in mind while one is looking at Kozlov’s works.
Kozlov’s method is precise and straightforward. The artist escapes the trap of language and the need to play someone else’s game on meanings. His practice is a proper example of getting rid of the shackles of analytical philosophy. As it also has been observed, while working on his paintings, Kozlov “collaborates” with his chosen material, often changing the course of his work on account of his response to the properties of the medium or the surface he is working on.
Sergey’s dream has always been to exhibit in London, where he currently resides. Finally, his artworks are showing at the Start Art Fair, at the Saatchi Gallery between 13 and 17 of October.
Sergey, what is the source of your creativity?
My emotions, impressions, moods, feelings and perceptions are the main “fuel” for my art. I truly believe that the independence of the artist’s voice should correspond to the viewer’s freedom to interpret and anticipate, and be inspired by the painting.
What was your first artwork?
It was a pencil portrait of the loved one.
Why do you prefer abstraction?
I see abstraction as the style that gives freedom and establishes a certain relationship with the world. Abstraction is in itself a language, through which I can express my feelings and sensations, which are too fleeting and subtle and are not at all expressible in the limited textual or spoken form. For me, it represents the perpetual dynamic evolvement of human thought. I believe, abstract art offers a whirlwind of opportunities in terms of “sensing” the multiplicity and innate diversity of the world. In this case, nature and human potential can be viewed as their integral part.
Also, I believe that the language of abstraction is particularly strong, as it emerges from the fundamental artistic instinct. Artists express concepts in stages, as these form up in their minds. The immediacy of expressing myself through abstract genre is, perhaps, what I find the most attractive about it.
Who and what inspires you?
I would say, that my work is primarily informed by the globalised tradition of abstract expressionism. I take my inspiration from the work of contemporary US artist Mark Bradford. Like him, I also prefer paper as my main medium. The revolutionary practices of Jackson Pollock and Cy Twombly were especially important for the development of my artistic language. The works of Katharina Grosse, rich in form and substance, have significantly influenced my approach to work.
The inspiration can literally strike me at any moment, anywhere. It grows like a bubble until it bursts and splashes onto canvas, screen or piece of paper, materialising as an artwork. For instance, my painting “Fire” was inspired by a song from a Bollywood musical. I draw my inspiration from almost anything.
What other artistic mediums do you prefer apart from paper and pencil?
As I have already mentioned, I started working in pencil: I believe it disciplined me as an artist. Watercolour is another way to work on one’s artistic technique. After a while, I taught myself digital painting. I found the ease and the speed of creating the simplest abstract painting fascinating. However, I quickly became aware of the limits of the medium. It is good for quickly capturing the energy of life, but in the end, nothing can beat the real paint. Materiality in art is very important to me. I first tried my hand in acrylic pigments, and then moved to oils. At some stage, I also experimented with spray paint, which is known for its quick drying properties.
I like to experiment with new materials and push the boundaries of the medium I choose to work in. Ultimately, it is the lightness and speed of expressing myself that are essential to my work and the selection of the medium.
Could you tell us a bit more about your method?
I usually start with a digital sketch, then move it to a small canvas. Depending on the composition and the subject, I tend to capture it on large-scale, monumental canvases. The potentiality of the painting’s size gives me the opportunity (and I hope, the viewer, as well) to plunge into the image, to wrap oneself up in it, become aware of its materiality and emotional context. Sometimes, I know what I wish to express before I start working. However, frequently, the conceptualisation of what I am aiming to say, can arrive in the process, before I finalise the artwork, or even after I have finished it.
When I experience admiration for something, I feel an immediate impulse to start working. I sometimes do not even look at the surface I am painting on: my hand moves freely and uncontrollably. It is a very elemental process. And only after this stage I edit the artwork by adding this or removing that.
Any further artistic aspirations? Ambitions?
I have always dreamt of exhibiting my works in London. Now, I would very much like to try my hand in sculpture. Installation art is another field, which I find attractive.