Vladimir Kush (born 1965) is a Russian born surrealist painter and sculptor. He studied at the Surikov Moscow Art Institute, and after several years working as an artist in Moscow, his native city, he emigrated to the United States, eventually establishing his own gallery on the island of Maui in Hawaii. His oil paintings are also sold as giclée prints which contributed to his popularity and led to the establishment of further galleries in Laguna Beach, California and Las Vegas, Nevada. In 2011 Kush won the First Prize in Painting at the Artistes du Monde international exhibition in Cannes.
Kush was born in 1965 in Moscow, Russia. After studying at the Surikov Moscow Art Institute, he was conscripted into the Soviet Army for two years where he was assigned to paint murals. In 1987, he began exhibiting with the USSR Union of Artists but earned a living drawing portraits on the streets of Moscow and caricatures for a newspaper. In 1990, following his first foreign exhibition in Germany with two other Russian artists, he emigrated to the United States, initially living in Los Angeles before moving to Hawaii where he also worked as a mural painter for the Whaler's Village Museum on Maui. While based in Hawaii, his works received several exhibitions in Hong Kong galleries. Gallery shows followed in Seattle, Pittsburgh, and other American cities, and he eventually opened his own gallery, Kush Fine Art in Lahaina, Hawaii.
He later opened Kush Fine Art galleries in Las Vegas and Laguna Beach, California. Many of his original oil paintings are also sold as giclée prints which initially contributed to his popularity. In 2007 Kush sued the pop singer Pink and her record company for copyright infringement when imagery from his painting (and later giclée print), Contes Erotiques, was used without his authorisation for her 2006 video U + Ur Hand. The case was settled the following year when the singer agreed to pay him undisclosed damages. Prints and an original oil painting by Kush are held in the NaPua Gallery collection at the Grand Wailea Resort on Maui in addition to works held in private collections. In July 2011 his works were shown at the Artistes du Monde international exhibition in Cannes where he won the American First Prize in Painting. He also has a resident show in Las Vegas, Nevada at Caesar's Palace.
Style and works
Kush predominantly works in the medium of oil painting on canvas or board, with many of the original paintings also sold as limited edition giclée-on-canvas prints. His bronze-colored sculptures are small-scale and usually based on imagery from his paintings, such as Walnut of Eden and Pros and Cons. Although his style is frequently described as surrealist, Kush himself refers to it as "metaphorical realism" and cites the early influence on his style of Salvador Dalí's surrealist paintings as well as landscapes by the German romantic painter Caspar David Friedrich. Another influence on his work has been the 16th century Dutch painter Hieronymus Bosch, known for his fantastic imagery and sometimes characterised as "the pre-Surrealism Surrealist". Wings, ships, and color-saturated seascapes are frequent themes in his paintings, exemplified in the companion pieces, Arrival of the Flower Ship and Departure of the Winged Ship. Flowing water is another recurrent theme, exemplified by Breach and Current. Other works such as Three Graces and African Sonata merge human and animal forms with inanimate objects.
List of paintings
Original paintings by Kush include:
- African Sonata (oil on canvas, 21 X 24 inches) – Elephants with giant tubas for faces are depicted at a watering hole on the plains of Africa.
- Arrival of the Flower Ship (2000, oil on canvas, 39.5 x 31.5 inches) – A white sailing ship approaches harbour on a calm sea. Its sails are depicted as giant pink flowers. Shadowy human figures approach the ship in small boats, each made from a single flower petal, while others watch from shore.
- Breach (late 1990s, oil on canvas) – Shown in the 1997 exhibit "From Gulag to Glasnost: Contemporary Art from Russia" at the International Images Gallery near Pittsburgh, the painting depicts a drained ocean surrounded by mountains, with a group of human figures in the foreground tossing a giant whale on a tarpaulin made of the sea water.
- Current (2000, oil on canvas, 16 x 20 inches) – The painting (often reproduced as a print) depicts the solitary figure of a naked man rowing a small boat through swirling water in a flooded landscape.
- Departure of the Winged Ship (circa 2000, oil on canvas, 39 x 31 inches) – Widely reproduced as a print, the painting depicts a three-masted sailing ship heading out to the open sea on a windy day. Its sails are formed by giant butterflies.
- Family Tree (oil on canvas) – A house is depicted as a giant tree with its upper branches still in construction. Greg Stacey wrote in OC Weekly: "It's like something out of a Bosch painting, a work any artist could be proud of. But ugh, that literal-minded title!"
- Three Graces (oil on canvas 11 x 14 inches) – Three dancing ballerinas on a chessboard-like stage are depicted with spinning tops for legs.
- Wind (1997, oil on canvas, 35.5 x 43.5 inches) – An isolated two-storey house is depicted with a huge blue shirt billowing out of its roof and windows while shadowy human figures gather with ladders. A giant pocket watch hangs from a chain over the side of the building.
- Winged Satellite (2000, oil on canvas) – A giant moth is depicted circling the earth as a metallic satellite with solar panel wings.
- Kush, Vladimir (2002). Metaphorical Journey. Kush Fine Art New York Inc. ISBN 0-9765298-0-7
- Journey to the Edge of Time (illustrations by Vladimir Kush; text by Kush's father, Oleg Kush and his uncle Mikhail Kush). Kush Fine Art. ISBN 0-9765298-1-5
- Artist Proof (2015) Kush Fine Art New York Inc. (a 188-page magazine relating to Kush's work).
- ^For an image of the painting, see Kush Fine Art: Departure of the Winged Ship
- ^ abcdeWorld and I (August 2002). "Vladimir Kush – Metaphorical Explorations, an artist finds his voice in Hawaii". Retrieved 27 January 2012 (subscription required).
- ^ abcThomas, Mary (29 March 1997). "Gallery Finds Russian Region Fertile Ground". Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. Retrieved 27 January 2012.
- ^For an image of the original painting see Kush Fine Art: Pros and Cons
- ^Gurnett, Kathleen (June 2006). "Flights of Shopping and Fantasy". San Diego Magazine, Vol. 58, No. 8, p. 20
- ^The Coastline Pilot reported the theft of a Kush painting worth $7,500 from the Laguna Beach gallery in January 2012. See: Clay, Joanna (12 January 2012). "Police: Galleries must be vigilant". Coastline Pilot. Retrieved 27 January 2012.
- ^For an image of the painting see Kush Fine Art: Contes Erotiques
- ^Hindustan Times (17 August 2007). "Pink sued by painter"(subscription required); Blouin Artinfo (28 March 2008) "Pink to Pay for Appropriating Painting". Retrieved 27 January 2012
- ^Honolulu Star-Advertiser (21 November 2010). "Art lifts Grand Wailea over the top". Retrieved 27 January 2012.
- ^Artistes du Monde Cannes 2011: winners list and press coverage(in French)
- ^ abcdStacy, Greg (7 June 2007). "Sunshine Surrealist". OC Weekly. Retrieved 27 January 2012.
- ^ abcdefghSmith, Craig (13 October 2006). "Something Once Known, Something Once Dreamed". The Santa Fe New Mexican. Retrieved 27 January 2012.
- ^ abcMidkiff, Tyler (16 March 2007). "Kush Creates new Mythologies". Sedona Red Rock News. Retrieved 26 January 2012.
- ^For images of the paintings described in this section, see Kush Fine Art: African Sonata, Arrival of the Flower Ship, Breach, Current, Departure of the Winged Ship, Family Tree, Three Graces, Wind, Winged Satellite
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