Vania Zouravliov

 
Born in Vladimir, a medieval capital of Russia, Vania (a
diminutive of Ivan) Zouravliov creates richly detailed illustrations
that look like daguerreotypes. His work combines modern images with
historical references and graphic elements from both the East and the
West to create imaginary scenes that seem to come out of a lost myth.

Zouravliov has described his pieces as having a Hoffmannesque feel, a
nod to Nutcracker author E. T. A. Hoffmann, whose tales describe
a dark world of children’s dreams and nightmares. Many of
Zouravliov’s illustrations showcase his ability to portray these
fantasies and fears, including the cover of the British Vintage Classics
reissue of the unexpurgated Grimm Brothers’ Complete Fairy
Tales
and a drawing for The New York Times Magazine about the
journey of a 14-year-old illegal immigrant.

The son of an art teacher,
Zouravliov began painting with his mother’s art supplies when he
was very young. He eventually became something of a prodigy, which led
to several appearances on Russian television as a child. Educated at the
Edinburgh College of Art, he moved to London in 2000, and his work has
been shown in galleries around the world.

Where do you usually
draw?

I draw at home and always listen to music very loudly while
working. I also like having certain images or books around me to inspire
me.

What’s the last album you played?
Pan
Sonic’s Katodivaihe.

What do you first remember
drawing?

I remember drawing evil hammerhead people at the age of
4. Contrary to what most adults would like to believe, a child’s
mind can be a very strange and disturbing place.

What would you be
doing if you weren’t doing this?

I would have liked to be a
forest keeper.

Do any texts inspire you?
As much as I love
literature, it does not have a direct impact on my work. When I
illustrate a text, I prefer to use it as an inspiration rather than
instruction.

Is your work characteristic in some way of the country
you come from—or live in?

Half of my life so far was spent
in Russia and the other half in the U.K. I feel that my character is
unmistakably Russian, and my ideas are similar to those of the artists
and illustrators of the late 19th century. They took inspiration from a
variety of cultures and incorporated various elements of those styles
into their work.

If you could collaborate with any artists you
choose, who would they be?

Rei Kawakubo, Bill Laswell, Paolo
Roversi, and DJ Krush. I have nothing but pure admiration for their
work.

What’s your most essential tool?
I don’t
feel attached to any of the materials that I use. I am only interested
in the strength and beauty of the finished image.

What’s your
favorite museum in the world?

The Victoria and Albert Museum,
London.

What’s the one thing that gives you inspiration to
keep making art?

A strong belief that creativity is the only
relative freedom we have in this world.

Do you have a motto or
favorite quotation?

Holding back the night
With its
increasing brilliance
The summer moon

 

[The death poem of
Tsukioka Yoshitoshi, a 19th-century Japanese woodblock artist]

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3 COMMENTS

  1. Great article: I stumbled across a magazine yesterday 8-13-2010 and was enthralled by his work but was totally blown away, when I searched online for more when I got home. One of the most amazing artists I have ever seen. Brilliance…Total brilliance and he has inspired me to take my own “INK” artwork to another level. I will be a fan as long as these lungs have air flowing through them.

  2. Great article: I stumbled across a magazine yesterday 8-13-2010 and was enthralled by his work but was totally blown away, when I searched online for more when I got home. One of the most amazing artists I have ever seen. Brilliance…Total brilliance and he has inspired me to take my own “INK” artwork to another level. I will be a fan as long as these lungs have air flowing through them.

  3. Great article: I stumbled across a magazine yesterday 8-13-2010 and was enthralled by his work but was totally blown away, when I searched online for more when I got home. One of the most amazing artists I have ever seen. Brilliance…Total brilliance and he has inspired me to take my own “INK” artwork to another level. I will be a fan as long as these lungs have air flowing through them.