It was in the year of the war, 1940. In the Soviet Union, friendship with Germans was at its peak. Moldavia, Latvia, Estonia and Lithuania were forced to join Stalin. We got factories on their territories producing milk and butter. That’s when I was born.
Only a year later, our “friend” became our enemy.
That was the beginning of the Great War, as it was called later. Truly Great – in the number of people’s lives it took, lives of Soviet people. But I managed to survive and even exhibit my first creative skills, at the age of three – my fist drawing of a stuffed eagle.
Since then, I went on creating… I learned about Stalin’s death in the town of Soviet Gavan, traveling vast distances of the far east with my family. Please note: I was born in the very heart of Moscow, Taganka Prison. It was on Taganka Square, where Vysotsky (famous Russian poet, bard, singer and actor) asked: “To be or not to be…”
After the death of The Leader, I left for Moscow to become an artist. The order to put my father under arrest was dismissed.
My teachers, on one hand – declared that I had a talent; on the other hand – that I was too curious. Curiosity was not encouraged. There were numerous attempts to expel me, but somehow, I stayed.
I remember, in 1959, a gypsy woman approached to foretell my future: I will live “on the other side.” I forgot her words, but now, in America, they acquired a new meaning. I started painting angels after surviving an earthquake in Tashkent. I was saved by my angel when he carried me away from my bed to escape being crushed by a falling ceiling.
But…at the end, the important thing is: I do not paint my sorrows, my phobias or other crud. I am painting the importance of “Being.” Anything else you want to know about me – it’s all in my paintings…
Spirituality was anathema to the 1940’s government of Soviet Russia where Alexander Anufriev’s profoundly mystical work was largely ignored. A prominent figure of the Odessa group, inspired by Byzantine ikons and Renaissance painting, the artist explains: “When I paint, I stand between the heavens and the earth, trying to make the invisible visible. I try to bring about a unification in my painting. Some might call it mysticism – the idea that we are all linked by our divine beginning. I think this unification is often expressed by beauty – so I am always looking for beauty.”
Alexander Anufriev’s mannerist style is both familiar and strange, compelling in its enigmatic force. Having emigrated to the United States, he lives and works among the cool solace of the Blue Ridge Mountains in central Virginia. Though most of his dreamlike works are found in European museums and private collections, Anufriev has garnered much attention with solo and group shows in the United States.
In communion with secret and unspoken truths, Anufriev’s work strives to convey the essential: “I try to represent what I feel from the core of the object, not just the exterior or visible part. In a stone, a table, a tree – in these objects there is some kind of divine substance that unifies them. In my perception of objects and people, I try to get beyond what exists today, to go beyond the temporary in order to express what is eternal.”