Koltakov Discusses the Making of his Amazing Modern Relief Sculptures
Alexander Koltakov, a Canadian based artist, is one of those who has stayed true and dedicated to his artistic practice against the odds in life. That passion for modern relief sculptures is evident throughout his compositions, which often blend elements of reality and fantasy within visually vibrant colour palettes.
His messages speak through his paintings. A true visionary of the modern times.
Born in Crimea, Alexandar was groomed into the art world by his grandfather.
He took formal art training with one of Crimea’s best-known painters, Papias N.I. After leaving school, he continued to paint and engaged in figured woodcarving. In 1990 he immigrated to Israel, and 17 years later, he moved to Canada with his wife and two children.
I’ve always loved painting and dreamed of being an artist since I can remember myself.
In this interview with Alexander Koltakov, he revealed why his passion for painting always prevailed against the odds in life. I asked him about the early days of his life in Crimea, the motivation behind some of his famous Relief Plaster works, and the influencers and mentors that helped shape his art practice.
Take us back to how you became an artist?
I’ve always loved painting and dreamt of being an artist since can I remember.
I used to sketch, draw, paint (oil and watercolour), wood carve and, poker work (etching on wood) during my childhood and adolescence, but when I grew up, I had a long break, and did not paint or do any artworks- Life, you know…
Only a few years ago I returned to my passion since then I haven’t spent a day without a brush in my hand.
Alexander in his studio working on Mechanicus , 2014
What keeps you motivated even against all the challenges you face in life?
When I start a new art project, I become obsessed with it.
I dream it, breathe it, live it until it’s done, and, even then, the idea doesn’t leave my mind, but flourishes and grows into the new creations, each of them has a part of my soul inside.” I can also add that most of my works are canvas paintings, but also my favourites are also plaster on wood reliefs or the 3-dimensional paintings, as I call them.
Did joining Papias N.I studio in your early days help shape your practice as a professional artist? Share with us, the process.
Papias N.I was an artist, working mostly in watercolour and oil. He painted wonderful landscapes. When I started taking art lessons with him, we were just the 2 of us, students, but at the end, it became a large art school. We had studio lessons as well as outdoor lessons.
Most of the times he was standing and painting with us, showing us how he makes things, also teaching about different styles and possibilities. We studied crayon and watercolour. I learnt to work with acrylic and oil painting I learned later by myself.
The major influence Papias had on me was his passion for art because love is addictive, you know.
Alexander at work
I can also add, that I was inspired by such great Russian painters as Ivan Aivazovsky, and Arkhip Kuindzhi and, many other realistic artists.
How is your studio setup?
My studio is a part of my apartment.
Three things in your studio you can’t work without?
Passion, inspiration, light.
Where do you look for your motivations?
My ideas come from everywhere – starting with the memories of the past, continuing with the world around me, prospecting to the thoughts about the future. My landscapes are the mix of the real nature, the views that I see or have seen while travelling or walking around with my family, with my fantasy and my imagination. My beliefs are coming come from my imagination.
Your Modern Relief Sculptures, I must say, are incredible. Walk us through the creation of one of the works, for example, Mechanicus? How does it grow to become a masterpiece?
The idea of Mechanicus came first from my wish to create something unusual, blend the life with techno – something that resembles our life now, the growing influence of techno world on our lives.
In the present times, we see the tendency to create games, dolls, robotics, that look real, or almost real.
My idea was to mix three elements –
stone – that means eternity, something that lasts almost forever,
fish – a life creature, that swims and breathes, and
technology – it is our reality, that sustains us if not forever, but for an extended period, and we don’t even think about how we rely on it in our lives.
Plaster mechanical fish sculptured and carved on the birch painting panel, that painted by acrylic colours in the stone-like style, creating a 3-dimensional view as real, as colour induced. Additional parts, such as wheels, stones, grass, and bubbles are sculptured too. The sides of the panel are painted in the same marble-like style.
Every relief starts with the sketch – what it is supposed to look when done.
Then the base – as the plaster is thick, it has to be based well on the metal pins, inserted into the wood panel.
The third stage – is a plaster relief itself – most of the carving is done while the plaster is still wet, so the work is done part-by-part, it needs long and laborious work. But the hardest part is the last one – the painting above the plaster. To create a perfect colour blend above the uneven surface and make the plaster look like a stone or crystal – it is not easy at all.
Side view of Mechanicus , 2014 by Alexander Koltakov
How long does it take to create one Plaster Relief Work?
Each 3-D painting takes around 3-5 weeks, depends on the time availability. My kids need my attention too sometimes.
Alexander Koltakov in action
What are the major themes you pursue in your works?
My favourite themes are nature and the female body.
Rainbow, 2016 by Alexader Koltakov, 15″ x 30″, $790 CAD
In paintings, I don’t limit myself to any one special theme, but rather prefer to explore different styles and techniques, because I believe, that an artist must learn and extend his skills and imagination to the infinity.
Two Galaxies by Alexander Koltakov, 30″ x 30″, $6,500 CAD, hanging in his studio
Apart from creating inspired paintings, what else do you like doing the most?
Computer animation – is one of my passions too, but I do not have enough time to do it in depth.
My family – is another passion and the light of my life.
Over to you.
I have asked more than enough questions to Alexander, now is your turn.
What do you think about his Relief plaster sculpture works?
What other questions you wish I had asked Alexander?
Please visit Alexander’s shop to see more of his works