Where does the ‘new’ come from in America?

by Richard Oleksiak

Where does the ‘new’ come from in America? Who makes the new music, the new art, the new writing? It comes from within, from the ghettos of Harlem and Watts to the suburbs of Rye and Sherman Oaks. And it comes from without, from Cairo, from Tokyo, from Vienna and Moscow. Particularly Moscow. Look at Ilia Anossov’s work and you will see where the ‘new’ comes from and what it’s all about. It’s about frescos, one of man’s oldest art forms that Ilia has made new again. It’s about walls that sing with color and dance with form. It’s about the free, unbridled expression of feeling and emotion all over personal environments. It’s about living and loving with art. It’s about renewal – of the soul., of the body, of America. That’s where the ‘new’ comes from.

It was about a year after the Berlin Wall came down that I traveled to Moscow on a vacation. On a typically gray Russian winter day – slush, smog and bone chilling cold – walking the noisy streets not far from the Kremlin wall, my wife and I were drawn to a small gallery that displayed an interesting collection of Russian handicrafts and drawings.

iLia Fresco (Anossov) former Moscow studio 1988-1992,

iLia Fresco (Anossov) former, 1988-1992, studio in Moscow.

When we entered the gallery one painting hit our eyes. It was imposing, maybe four by six feet, but even more than its size the painting distinguished itself from everything else in the store by its vibrant color and active brush strokes. No matter haw many times we toured the little shop, my eyes were constantly drawn to that piece, and finally, I asked how much the owner was asking. A considerable amount of haggling ensued, ultimately ending in the owner insisting that I deal with the artist personally.

Little did I know that the cigar smoking slightly tipsy young painter I met twenty four hours later was destined to become my most frequent pen pal, and to this day, a constant source of amazement and wonder to me. Ilia Anossov sold me “Tree of a Thousand Bottles” but only on the condition that I permit him to introduce my wife and I to the lively scene of young painters working in the new freedom of Moscow. We took the painting and the once in a life time opportunity.

Since then, I’ve closely followed Ilia’s peripatetic life, purchased two more of his painting and remain constantly amazed at his openness, positive attitude and his extraordinary dedication to his work. This is a man who loves life and who says it over and over again with equal aplomb in a variety of media.

Mothers Apples, iLia Anossov (fresco) - oil on canvas 1988

Mother’s Apples, iLia Anossov (fresco) – oil on canvas 1988

To know Ilia you need only take a close look at his work. Bold and bright, behind every straightforward expression of imagery there lies the sly smile of a complex thinker who always manages to remain fresh and new; upbeat and optimistic. This is an artist constantly searching for life’s meaning and the best way to express it. Not surprisingly, succeeds over and over again.
To Ilia – artist, thinker and lover of life… May your work always grow as you have, inwardly and outwardly simultaneously; and my you always paint the sky with all the rich, exotic colors of your Russian home.

All the best,
Richard Oleksiak