The Art of Oleg Radvan

Publications

2010

*Aesthetica Magazine, UK
*Boe Magazine, Italy
*Arte y Libertad V, Galeria Artelibre, Espana
*Avanguardie Artistiche, Annuario d’arte comtemporanea, Italy
*Direct Art Magazine, USA
*Visual Overture Magazine, USA

2009
*The Artist’s Magazine, December, USA

2008
*”Fine Art” issue 5, Ukraine
*”Aura” Fine Art magazine issue 3-4, Ukraine
*”International Artist” Issue 64

2007
*Best of America Oil Artists.USA

2006
*Southwest Art Magazine, May.
*Art Business News Magazine, March.
*Terra Nova Magazine, March.
*International Encyclopedic Dictionary of Modern & Contemporary Art, Italy.
*American Art Collector Magazine, January.

2005
*International Encyclopedic Dictionary of Modern & Contemporary Art, Italy.


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The eternal mystery of an artist:

Oleg Radvan

Anastsiya Boloshynska

I got acquainted with the work of the American artist Oleg Radvan step by step.  At first there was a story of his rocket like flight of fantastic success in a country where it seems it’s already difficult and impossible to somehow surprise anyone with anything new. Later, I saw his work displayed in photographs and became familiar with his art and understood that at least one theme in his work is dear to me, which is already saying a lot. And lately when I began to write an article on Oleg, I realized I was gasping for air, because my previous communication with artists had a different character—direct communication. But now when I am trying to understand him just being in the company of his work, I understood it’s not enough.  I need communicate him with personally.  It’s good that the internet allows one to see his work and to an extent communicate with him, even if it is for a short time.

THE BEGINNING

Oleg Radvan to a certain extent is a mysterious and unpredictable.  And although every artist’s charisma is an eternal mystery in Radvan’s case there were too many steps that cannot but be considered mysterious.   Oleg Radvan is preoccupied with painting only five years. And to say this is to say nothing.  Today he is prolific, hurrying up, to catch up and make up for the lost time. To a certain degree he is right because he started painting late when he turned 48 years old.  This is the first mystery that is difficult to explain. Is it possible to turn away from everything, family, problems and concerns related to family life and to principally change directions in one’s life?  At this time it looks like a healthy provocation, very risky but possibly a compromise. Oleg said the decision to change happened unexpectedly, without warning, but there was finality once it was made.   All his close friends, including his wife Natalya, felt his decision was final and so no effort was made to change his mind.  Moreover, his family unanimously supported his decision. The second mysterious moment in the equation can be the fact that Oleg had no schooling in the arts. Moreover, there were not even amateurish attempts to paint in the past. He had no teachers, friends or spent any discussions on arts whatsoever. The artistic scene was unknown to him. Of course, Oleg visited exhibits, looked at art catalogues but as ordinary spectator and nothing more.  Only one time when he left a gallery did he turn to his wife and say “I can do better than most of the artists exhibited in the gallery”.  Oleg does not hide the fact that his lack of professional training is met coldly by other colleague artists. Collectors and gallery directors, however, find this a redeeming trait and in some cases do not pay attention to this at all. The main thing is the art.

Oleg Radvan’s teachers’ appeared late in his career although he was fascinated by Rembrandt, David, Caravaggio and Makovsky. They became his “real” teachers only when a need for them appeared. Today, Oleg Radvan’s follows with fascination the work of Norwegian artist Odd Nerdrum, considering him one the most prominent contemporary artists.  Sometimes he falls under the influence of his work and then Radvan’s works become uncharacteristically shaped with allegorical grotesque.

WORK

Still-life and portrait are Oleg Radvan’s provenance. The first work that he painted, unexpectedly for everyone, was a still-life. Only later did he realize that by drawing still-life’s it would be difficult to become well-known in the U.S.  Portraits are viewed more favorably. This, though, was not the sole reason for turning to portrait painting.  One can say his turning to portraiture was a desire to develop, make more difficult the task, exercise and not rest with the foolproof found methods, conventions and subject matter. It is my belief, however, that in order to understand Radvan, it is more important to take a closer look and focus on his still-life. “Bread is key to everything”, the title of one of his works, makes one think of the “deep” slogans from the socialist past. All possible attempts to find a deeper sense in this subject matter the artist cast aside: “”It’s not important to find depth in the simple”.  His wife, Natalya, jokingly explained here her own version of the story about the bread.  It’s quite simple when she was away there was no food in the house. “He was probably very hungry”, she laughed.  Which version is correct is beside the point because the bread symbolism has an old history behind it.  For Oleg Radvan the bread is the main protagonist in his work. I do not know why but I think this fact alone steers me to the path that there is a hierarchical construction of thought in his work. Possibly this allows him to separate the main from the secondary in constructing his own world on the canvas in this way and not in any other way.

Nedruma stated that contemporary art has transformed and conceptualized itself so much that portraits with their relaxed, beautiful faces are viewed now as avant-garde. Therefore, is this a return to what was foremost in early trends of art?  In fact, depending on the language of art, its semantics, is it the image of a man or an object, is that really that important?  Importance lies elsewhere—will an image be created.

Oleg Radvan is not keen to paint portraits on request/order. Especially when the art-market does not assign portraits a special privilege, as a genre and buyers/critics view the portrait differently depending on who is depicted. When portraits are done on demand the artist should have a certain concrete view and understanding of the person depicted. The person portrayed should inspire the artist.  On the other hand the artist is constantly looking for interesting faces that unfortunately do not always materialize. Consequently, some faces migrate from one work to another and appear in various situations and moods which the artist tries to capture and recreate.

EXHIBITS AND COMPETITIONS

Possibly his unexpected turn to art would not have had such an impact and would not be so convincing if he did not achieve a different level. We are talking about his participation in competitions and his awards at various art exhibits and competitions. It would be interesting to know what the artist makes of this, whether he sees it as commercial or artistic success.  “First of all it gives me, as an artist, an impetus to create new works because the old ones are not interesting for me. I see many problems within the old works. But in preparing for a new exhibit/competition I am looking at creating something more interesting. Secondly, participation in such events allows me to see different criteria. If I analyze which works in the last few years have been recognized or received an award I can safely say there is tendency toward realism in art, which requires a detailed careful attention on my part as an artist. Awards are given to works with expert craftsmanship and with a careful innovative attention to detail. We are not talking about photographic realism but painted images. The boundary line is very narrow and must not be crossed. I think the most important problem at hand for the artists is to know when to stop. A sense of good taste, harmony should be in everything.”

It quite known that at international and regional competition there are no simple rules of participation. For a lot of artists even the first selection process can be the last one.  Those who become finalists, even though they do not win, achieve recognition because they are on competing with the eventual winner.  Oleg feels his most important achievements has been his laureate prize “”For outstanding achievements” that he received in the spring of this year, a yearly exhibit-conference that is organized by the International Association of Portraitures of America. This is one of the important prestigious events not only in America and to achieve the laureate status is not easy or quite that simple. Over 1000 artists participated, with 2-3 works, at this event this year.  Twenty artists were chosen for the final. The laureate status was given to Oleg for the portrait “In red” of his wife.  Nataliya told me this work has an aura of mystery behind it.  When Oleg completed this work he said: ‘This work will become very well-known.” Once again we have the eternal mystery of the artist’s intuition. This is self-assurance especially when you give all you have to create a work and then feel its strength You feel the power of a work when its magnetic field draws to itself many people and all those who surround the work understand the dual, hidden essence of the portrait, that separate the art work from purely its commercial value. This is when the artist and the person depicted in the portrait become one complete whole.

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