Anton Arkhipov’s philosophy is simple: Enjoy life
VAIL – At his W. 29th Street studio in Denver, Anton Arkhipov doesn’t wax political or attempt to dissect the meaning of the many pieces of art hanging from his brick walls. The 43-year-old artist, who says he feels 15, would rather paint a broader picture of what it is he’s interested in – human relations, food, wine and celestial bodies.Arkhipov’s attitude is pure enough, but his desires were not something that could always be attained. The Taste of Vail artist grew up in communist Moscow, where he says he was forced to follow Russia’s political ideals and promote party lines. “Creative people were struggling the most. It was a corrupt, rotten system,” he says. Even at the esteemed Surikov College of Fine Art, Arkhipov felt his freedom was restricted. “It was boot camp, very academic,” he says. “You got punished for branching out from social realism.”
His painting “Enchanted Journey,” the signature piece of this year’s Taste of Vail, is evidence of the distance he has gained from the rigid format pushed in his homeland. Far from social realism, his painting is an impressionistic escape. It’s not that the artist forgot the struggles of Russia or the difficulties he initially faced as an immigrant in the U.S. with little knowledge of the language. He would simply rather focus on the more enjoyable aspects of life. “We’re all imprisoned in this world. Our goal is just like the guy in jail – make life better,” he says.As the son of anti-communist artists, Arkhipov dreamed of the freedom America had to offer and envisioned the kind of expression he now enjoys. The Russian painter and sculpture was not interested in the caged vision of art his native country fostered, instead he desired to experiment with his brush. Once Arkhipov moved to New York City, he began to expand his repertoire with Cubist and abstract themes. Of the transition, he says, “My style changed tremendously. It was more about structure and heavy symbolism.” Arkhipov eliminated human figures from his painting altogether while in New York, focusing more on geometric shapes harnessed by color. He began to express himself by creating an impressionistic mood rather than a literal recreation of the world around him.
“I like to break dimensions. I paint my world, that’s the beauty of being an artist,” Arkhipov says.As his career progressed, so did the artist’s philosophy on how he approached his work. Rather than imitate the style of a master painter, Arkhipov cultivated his own. “You have the tendency to attach yourself to an artist,” he says. “I have to find my own language. I can’t do it on purpose.”Deliberately or not, Arkhipov has created a catalogue of work anchored in an appreciation of human creation and natural beauty. He doesn’t want his own creation to be a replica of life around him, but rather a piece that creates a visceral reaction from his viewer. And what better way to draw a reaction than from expressing the Vail lifestyle?”I’m the only painter who does apres ski,” he says with a smile.
Taste of the good lifeIt’s no surprise Arkhipov was selected to be Taste of Vail’s official artist. “It’s about what you do. How you leave the whole world behind. It’s escape,” he says. Arkhipov, who displays his art at the Masters Gallery in Vail, and also in Beaver Creek, Denver and Park City, was already known by Taste of Vail Board member Paul Frezacca. Frezacca, who also owns La Tour restaurant in Vail Village, says he was impressed by Arkhipov’s unique style and his tendency to paint the finer things in life. He commissioned the painter to do a work specifically for the Taste of Vail event. From this came “Enchanted Journey,” an expression of the essence Taste of Vail embodies.”He’s really into food and wine and the lifestyle that we live up here in Vail,” Frezacca says.
In “Enchanted Journey,” Arkhipov’s icons are clear. A romantic couple hovers above a rolling landscape, oblivious to the world around the canvas’s tight frame as they share a bottle of wine and an assortment of fruit and cheese. Arkhipov says, “When I painted those figures, it’s one whole being. They’re so in love, so together. They have souls everyone would have in my ideal world.” The Russian artist doesn’t let himself be bound by dimensions or logic, instead creating the scene as he wants it. The couple uses matchsticks for toothpicks, the moon is both new and crescent, the lighting is impossibly variant. But that’s the point. Arkhipov’s subtle surrealism allows him to pack his canvas with the aspects of the world he enjoys. “I refuse to confine myself to reality. I want to enjoy yesterday, today, tomorrow at the same time,” Arkhipov says.
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