My first encounter with Victor Nizovtsev’s work appeared in the most unlikely of places: a small Main Street art gallery, in downtown Annapolis, Maryland. Why is this strange, you ask? One look at the grandiose yet heartwarming vision that is Nizovtsev’s artistry, and you can’t help but feel wholly overwhelmed by the stark contrast between his fantastical universe, and reality.
Part Gustav Klimpt, part Grimms’ Fairy Tales, Nizovtsev is a master of utilising art as a transporting and transformative experience. While most of his subjects include fanciful portraits of mermaids, harlequin jokers, or grandparents with grandchildren, some include ‘simpler’ perspectives, such as nature, parks, and statues in the rain. Regardless of substance, Nizovtsev consistently emphasises the subtle balance of blending the absurd with truth—almost like a dream—and thus achieves a breathtaking sense of familiarity and nostalgia.
Victor Nizovtsev was born in Central Siberia in 1965. His family fled the Russian Federation when he was young to settle in the Republic of Moldova, where Nizovtsev spent his childhood in the heart of the region’s wine country. His art career began at the age of nine, when he was accepted into Kotovsk’s Art School for Children, and then Illia Repin College for Art when he was fourteen. Afterwards, he earned his degree at the prestigious Vera Muhina University for Industrial Arts in St. Petersburg, Russia, before moving back to Moldova to begin his professional art career.
In 1997, Nizovtsev emigrated to the United States, enjoying a good degree of success in his exhibitions and shows. In 2007, he left Washington, D.C. to settle down in Maryland, where he lives with his wife and daughter, Anya. The McBride Gallery, in downtown Annapolis, Maryland, showcases an vast amount of Nizovtsev’s work.
Nizovtsev works exclusively with oil on canvas, and is a self-proclaimed master of ‘theatrical figurative composition, fantasy, landscapes, and still life’. Though professionally trained in Russia, Nizovtsev admits he is a perpetual student of life, inspired by the quintessence of the everyday. However, ‘Greek mythology, Russian folklore, childhood memories, great Masters of the past, or routine daily life’ are just a few of his specific inspirations.
I’ve been hard-pressed to find an artist whose collective works are as breathtaking and memorable as Nizovtsev’s. Standing before one of his massive canvases, one is first struck with his almost impossible spectrum of rich hues—only to quickly be absorbed in the thick expanse of detailed and layered symbolism. The absurd becomes not so absurd when one lets themselves into Nizovtsev’s world; the individual stories portrayed in each painting are ones of universal appeal.
The epitome of originality and bravery, Victor Nizovtsev is an unsuspecting genius whose work holds a magnetic pull that is hard to ignore.
Image credit: Victor Nizovtsev. Time Tide via Flickr.