“The road of an artist is the longest and windiest route,” says Marina Vitkovsky, wife to internationally known surrealist artist Vladimir Vitkovsky.
The Vitkovskys’ life certainly illustrates that point, starting in Leningrad (now St. Petersburg, Russia), where they met and married, and continuing in Italy, Boston, San Francisco, and now Holly Springs.
During that journey, the couple owned a private gallery in San Francisco, exhibited internationally, and, upon first moving to the US, experienced five years with no sales — winding indeed.
Vladimir was a born artist, painting and drawing all his life. He attended three different art schools in Russia, learning fine art, graphic art, and applied art disciplines.
That depth of experience is evident in his body of work, which includes pieces in ink, charcoal, oil pastel, oil paints, sculpture, and paper.
“He is known for his ink technique,” says Marina. “He received a gold medal in an international show in Sweden for that technique. No one can repeat it.”
Vitkovsky bends, brushes, and scrapes dark black ink into figures and forms, working within a five-minute window before the ink dries to create bold, graphic scenes.
Though Vitkovsky creates with several media, recurring themes surface in all of his works.
“Big arches, people, time, music, and cities are common motifs,” says Marina. “He combines them in different ways.”
“He creates his own surrealist world, usually with faceless people and angles; you can go into them and hide away.”
Vladimir’s paintings are also largely monochromatic, though bolder colors are making their way into some of the newest works.
“He thinks color stands in your way of seeing other things,” says Marina.
The couple owned a gallery in San Francisco for 10 years, selling Vitkovsky’s original works to designers, investors, tourists, and art enthusiasts all over the world. But growing crime and political polarization in the area spurred them to move cross country to Holly Springs.
“Our daughter, Dasha, did the research and found Holly Springs. It was growing and flourishing and attracted her attention. We hope this is the last move we make,” says Marina.
“Our collectors in the Triangle and Southeast are growing. People here follow their likes; they buy what they like,” says Marina, noting the contrast from California buyers, who are influenced by status and trends.
“Here people want to talk to you, to share their emotions and thoughts about the art,” she says.
Instead of opening a new gallery, the Vitkovskys converted their home into a studio, welcoming visitors by appointment. Original works in all sizes and shapes cover the walls of their three-story residence, with Vladimir’s easel and current work in progress poised in the middle of it all.
“His work never stops, and it never ends,” says Marina. “He never knows when he started or when an idea came to him.”
Vitkovsky’s presence in the Southeast continues to grow. His works are now on display in the Marquee gallery in Asheville. The artist frequently exhibits at local and regional art festivals, including Spring Daze, Lazy Daze, Festival in the Park in Charlotte, and Virginia’s Museum of Contemporary Art Boardwalk Art Show.
They are also opening a booth, called Art O’clock, at Raleigh’s Painted Tree Marketplace.
“We have collected some of the best, most interesting artists from the former Soviet republics who reside in the US and are really excited to share their talents with our community,” says Dasha Vitkovsky.
Editor’s note: Vladimir and Marina communicate in a mix of Russian and English. In this interview, Marina spoke on Vladimir’s behalf.