A Profile of Valery Koshlyakov
To true joy of exploring art is finding that one piece that truly takes your breath away. On exceptionally rare occasions, you will find an artist who you feel is something of a kindred spirit and will find yourself entranced by every single piece of art that person creates.
Such was the case for me when I first had the privilege of discovering the work of Valery Koshlyakov. His work, perhaps unlike any other artists, speaks to me on a level that I didn’t even know existed, so I think it is only right that I share a little bit about the man behind the work and talk about some of my favourite Valery Koshlyakov piece.
Born in Salsk, Russia, Valery Koshlyakov operates primarily out of Moscow, where he creates absolutely remarkable depictions of some of the world’s most famous architectural marvels. I believe that, more than anything else, is what has drawn me towards him. After all, as an architect in my own right I have a true passion for the buildings that he so regularly depicts and I find myself fascinated by the interesting new spins he puts on buildings that I already have such a deep familiarity with.
His works have been featured in some of the world’s leading galleries, including the Saatchi Gallery and Centre Pompidou and his reputation continues to grow, with many of his pieces selling for five and six-figure sums if they reach auction.
My hope is that one day I will be able to purchase an original Koshlyakov piece for myself. However, for the time being I will have to make do with prints and going to see the work in person.
My Favourite Pieces
To fully explain what I so enjoy about Koshlyakov’s work, I need to examine a few of the pieces that brought him to my attention and has kept him there for so many years.
Grand Opera, Paris
Created in 1995, this is the painting that many feel introduced Koshlyakov to the world. It is a remarkable reimagining of the building, making use of ancient symbolism and ruins that truly lend an entirely new depiction to the building. This painting also demonstrated Koshlyakov’s penchant for creating enormous, mural-esque depictions of his subjects, which some commentators believe to be a political reference that tips its hat towards the Stalin-led era of Russia, when political propaganda and myth building were king.
Paris, Notre Dame
You may see something of a theme here in terms of my preferences, as I have always felt something of a kinship with Paris. This enormous piece, which combines artistic excellence with basic materials, including cardboard and sticky tape, drips of Koshlyakov’s consistent references to empire and the idea of scale. In many ways, the work has more in common with street art than it does the picture-perfect representations of the building that so many others have created, only in this case the depiction is on such a grandiose scale that you can’t help but feel overwhelmed by it all.