Home Magazine A conversation with Mikhail Baranovskiy

From scripts to paintings, the Russian artist Mikhail uses art to transform reality and evoke tragicomic emotions.

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Kooness: Tell us about your art, why do you make this  type of art?

Mikhail Baranovskiy: For most of my life, I have been involved in literary creativity. I worked at a newspaper, wrote books for adults and children, plays, and scripts for films and TV series. In 2014, at fifty-one, I travelled to Israel. I didn’t know the language and didn't have a clear idea of what my future could hold. One thing was clear: my book and script era ended. I was thinking about how to find myself in a new country. To keep myself busy and decorate the interior of my rented apartment, I started drawing. When all the walls were covered with paintings, I realized that I couldn’t stop. And then it turned out that there are many walls all over the world ready that accept my work. And this has been going on for ten years.

Kooness: What is the artistic process behind your work?

MB: I never studied art, but I did study journalism, literature, and screenwriting. I understand what a plot is about, how it is built, and what the laws of drama are. I still make up stories, just through different creative means. The writer in me was still there - I just swapped the pen and took a brush. In art, just like in literature plot, conflict, drama, and metaphors are significant elements. I don't paint landscapes or still life. I am interested in a person's lyrical, comic, and tragic moments of his life. I am impressed by an artistic statement that does not copy reality but transforms it. 

Mikhail Baranovskiy, A Hard Days Night. Courtesy of Teravana Gallery.

Kooness: What about your style, how did it change over time?

MB: I started with graphics. Black ink and paper. I had a hard time transitioning to paint. From work to work, I added one color at a time to the usual black-and-white combination. I had some kind of fear of color diversity. Now I'm no longer afraid of a full palette.

Kooness: How do you develop your art skills?

MB: It seems to me that all people are divided into either researchers or practitioners. I prefer the trial and error method, the daily practice of my own experience. In the end, we are all different, all original. The style of graduation is very arbitrary. Each truly artistic statement carries unique, individual author’s features.

Kooness: What is your ideal working environment?

MB: Sun and warmth. Luckily I live in Isarel. Lots of coffee and cigarettes, as well as good jazz music.

Kooness: When is your favorite time of the day to create?

MB: My apartment is also my studio, so the creative process practically never stops. At any moment when I feel the right impulse, I can continue working. Natural light or artificial lighting does not play a special role if you want to work. 

Mikhail Baranovskiy, This too Shall Pass. Courtesy of Teravana Gallery.

Kooness: What motivates you to create?

MB: A blank canvas, a good mood or a bad mood, a complimentary review from a person whose opinion is valuable to me, an interesting idea that requires immediate action, consumer demand, and the transience of human life.

Kooness: What Does Your Art Mean to You?

MB: I consider each work a challenge for myself, by overcoming established steretypes, my inertia, and find an original idea for a future painting. It is a challenge to see if I will be able to technically implement my plans.

Kooness: How do you define success as an artist?

MB: On the one hand, success is the maximum realization of creative abilities. On the other hand, the manifestation of talent that can't be called success. Therefore, success is certainly a fact of social recognition. Preferably during life.

Kooness: Who are your biggest artistic influences?

MB: Marc Chagall, Pablo Picasso, Amadeo Modigliani, Gabriel Garcia Marquez, Woody Allen and my wife.

Cover image: Mikhail Baranovskiy. Unity of Opposites

Written by Asia Artom

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