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Photo by Omar Cruz
Q & A with Arkady Lvov
Ongoing interview series with Ellipsis artists
How have you been coping with this new reality?
I felt this was the time to prove that your spirit is strong and will survive the extraordinary occurrences of the moment. It was time to be as creative and productive as one can, despite all the restrictions nature and circumstances are imposing on us. I consider myself extremely lucky: the art of platinum printing I'm practicing for over thirty-five years as a medium for my creative work and business is an art of solitude. This delicate process requires full concentration and a zen-like state of mind impossible to achieve with the presence of a stranger at the studio. In this time of mitigation, it felt odd and surreal to be alone in the twelve-story commercial building in the middle of Manhattan but it was also comforting to know that no rules of 'internment' are being broken.

Who are some of the biggest influences on your own work?
There are a good number of them. Some are obvious - Spanish and Dutch still lifes of the Golden Age, the incomparable Chardin, late 19th-Century photography, Giorgio Morandi. But there are others that influenced me in the less direct way, like paintings of Antoni Tàpies, Alberto Burri, Francis Bacon. And then there are artists who have been a strong personal influence and help me become who I am, those with whom fate gifted me to be friends - great Russian artists Mihail Chemiakin and Lev Meshberg, the giant of American photography Arnold Newman, the sublime Italian master of abstract landscape Ercole Monti.
Who is your favorite artist and/or photographer?
The most difficult question. How to choose one when you worship so many! It’s like naming your favorite child when you equally love them all. But if I'm allowed to name at least two it would be Velasquez and Chardin among the painters, and Josef Sudek and Joel-Peter Witkin among the photographers.

What is your favorite city to visit?
By far it's Venice. The whole city is a work of art itself, a total gem, an endless trove of wonders, the place I can't get enough of. I'm going there regularly for the last twenty-five years and still discover new artistic and spiritual treasures on every trip. That the place which is totally after my heart with its crumbling walls of decaying buildings and magnificent masterpieces hidden behind many of them, a constant source of inspiration day and night, a wonderful fairy tale that at the same time is very real, especially when one gets off the beaten pass and loses itself in the remote areas of the city. Venice becomes pure magic when fog descends from the lagoon or when it's totally deserted in the silence of the night. This is my favorite time to tread its alleys and squares trying to capture enchanting structures and light.     
When you're not creating art, what are you reading or watching to keep your mind occupied?
Reading for me is a rare luxury. I'm a slow reader and seldom have time for it. But when I'm out of town, traveling or staying with friends, it's mostly non-fiction these days. I'm a history buff so it's bios, memories, and historical studies. Real-life events are often more fascinating than anything writer's fantasy is capable of inventing. When it comes to the screen, the spectrum is much broader: arthouse movies, crime thrillers, historical dramas, documentaries, all streamed online since I don't have a TV. Unfortunately, besides classics, there are so few new productions (like, let's say, Madman, Billions, or Downton Abbey) made well enough so it's worth one's time.

Which is your favorite museum? Perhaps a favorite single artwork?
The Met. Besides being one of the world's few truly universal great museums, for me personally, it is a home away from home. I'm fortunate to be living in the relative proximity to it, so weekly visits became a part of life, a wonderful routine, and an endless source of joy. As for the single favorite work of art, again it's "your favorite child" type of question, but if I must choose, it is a 12x16-inch painting called Glass of Water and Coffeepot, by Jean-Baptiste-Siméon Chardin and at the Carnegie Museum of Art in Pittsburgh.
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ANGELICA SEMMELBAUER
FOUNDER, ELLIPSIS ART


Angelica is a Private Art Advisor working with a variety of artists and consulting private clients. She is a member of the NYU Alumni Council and ArtTable, the leadership organization for professional women in the visual arts.

angelica@ellipsis-art.com
www.ellipsis-art.com
 
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