Multi-talented Agora Artist Yuriy Danich has an incredible career spanning over two decades. His paintings combine surrealism with the realist style of nineteenth-century European painting with the expressiveness, self-exploration, and artistic freedom of contemporary art. Besides creating fine art, Yuriy is an Emmy award-winning set designer as well. We spoke to him about the deeper meaning behind his art and his, sometimes challenging, creative process.
What is your actual process like? How do you begin – with a color, a mental picture, or a theme?
My process begins by imagining a picture: a representation with color, composition, detail. It’s a skill I’ve developed over time. I then translate this mental picture onto canvas.
How do you choose your subject?
My subjects are generally relevant to my life in some way. Many of my paintings focus on life and death, which have always been represented in art because everyone, no matter what their creed or class, has been touched by them in some way.
Are you ever surprised by the final product when you complete an artwork?
Absolutely. Sometimes I’ll look at a finished work and wonder how I ever created it. Every artwork has the potential to surprise me upon completion; and more often than not I’m pleasantly surprised by what I create.
Are there any underlying contextual messages in your art?
My work is always saying something. Whether it’s through a riddle, an enigma, or an encoded message, images which tell a story or carry some hidden meaning play an important role in my art. I encourage viewers to look beyond the frame, provoking them to contemplate the bigger picture.
Do you have a favorite work? Which one and why?
‘Judas’ is my favorite character. I’ve always tried to understand why he did the things he did. Was it for money or for some other reason…? I think his story fascinates other people, too, which makes it a good subject for a painting.
How do you combine your career as scenic artist with fine arts? How do the two influence each other?
I feel the two mediums intertwine quite well. As a scenic artist, I’ve produced a lot of set backgrounds that required me to copy works of the Old Masters. Doing this, I’ve picked up some very useful techniques which I now incorporate into my own work.
You said you have spent time documenting people from a mental institution in St. Petersburg. Tell us about this experience and how it has influenced your artistic process.
It was nothing short of eye-opening to experience the human mind at the brink. I’ve tried my best to recreate those harrowing scenes on canvas. This has been an important step for me, because it has taken me beyond my artistic comfort zone.
What do you want to convey to your audience?
I want to encourage challenging, thought-provoking, and compelling art. As artists, we aspire not only to create beautiful imagery but to elicit thoughts we didn’t know were possible. My paintings are rich in symbolism and offer worlds of hidden meaning to anyone who is willing to look deeper than the surface.
Yuriy Danich is a successful contemporary artist based in the United States. He was born in St. Petersburg, Russia, where he studied at the Art and Industry Academy. For the past 20 years, he has been working as a scenic artist for television and theater and has won numerous awards for set decoration and design. View Yuriy’s artworks available for sale on his ARTmine page.
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