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Costa Gorelov

Costa Gorelov is a Russian painter and artist whose work has captivated people all around the world. We got the opportunity to interview Costa about what his artwork means to him and the deep connections his self-portraits have with defining oneself.

By Ana Treviño

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How did you get involved with painting and from what age did you start?

I've been painting since I was 20 years old. So it happened around the time when I was 19-20 years old, but my interest had been growing for a long time before that. When I was a child, I would spend my time at galleries and theatres. At the galleries I would try to copy with pen or pencil in my sketchbook some of my favourite paintings.


I always had thousands of sketchbooks, I always loved the special paper, the smell of this paper, and I remember my desire to fill every page with some compositions, sketches, drawings. Before my 20th birthday I was only sketching, but afterwards I started to paint by oil. I had to have a surgery on my right hand, so I needed to train it somehow, so art was the best therapy for it. But as much as I can remember, I always called myself an artist, because everything I do in my life always has a vision of art. 


Where do you get your inspiration from?

My inspiration comes from the history and architecture of the middle ages, literature, fashion and interior design. But most of all it comes out of fashion. Fashion to me is the most wonderful form of art, cause it has absorbed architecture, history, craft, paintings, and you can wear it. But to me it was always a symbol and I use fashion items in my paintings as symbols, which have many relations with my characters within the paintings. 

Can you walk us through your process from idea to execution for your paintings. How long does it take you to complete an artwork? 

When I was creating my technique, I would think about what I wanted to express by said technique. I always liked the transparency of watercolour. I thought that I wanted to be 100% honest with the viewer, so I decided to paint with transparent oils mixed with varnish. By viewing my paintings you can see the canvas behind the colours. This means that the viewer can see the metaphor of the canvas inside themselves. This is what I want to achieve. Each painting I create for 2-3 weeks; my technique requires good drying and horizontal position of the canvas.

Vintage_Dreams_113x132 cm_Costa_Gorelov.jpg

What have you learned about yourself throughout this process?

This is a very deep and hard question to me. I want to be honest but still I can't understand what I have learned about myself through this process. I understood one thing perfectly. I don't want to be anyone, except an artist and shopaholic. 

Out of all the works you’ve created which one is most dear to you and why?

The most dear work to me is the artwork "Vintage dreams", because this painting is about finding a way to reconcile with yourself, about finding your beginning and what that really is. This question has always been relevant to me and remains to this day. After all, if you try to find this answer, then you will encounter a mass of stereotypes, opinions and voices that do not belong to you in your own head. The character depicted in this painting closed himself off from the whole world, as he is very afraid of it; afraid of condemnation, alienation.


He is already alienated, but left alone with himself, he relaxes and tries on different things. Yes, this guy has found himself with a Birkin bag in a vintage fashion store. But is it because he is a shopaholic and a consumer, or because he sees something deeper and more valuable in these things? Or does he combine it? But it is so important, for him to discover his passion. It is as important to him as a telescope is to an astronomer. 


What famous artist dead or alive would you like to meet, and what would you ask them? 

Of the dead artists, I'd like to meet Alice Neel. And from the living, Miriam Сahn.

Most of all, I am inspired by people, their kindness, and their trust and belief. I want to thank: Ali Warren, one of the most inspiring people and artists; Keri Davis, and her twin sister; the great web designer, Markus Huber, one of the greatest professors and teachers ever; and my wife, Julia Emelianova (who is an extra talented writer), for help, belief, trust and kindness. I am more than thankful to each one of you, because with your strengths, your wisdom, your souls I grow as an artist and person. You’ve made my year and my whole future life! Thank you very much!

What can we expect from you in the near future?

In the near future you can expect an exhibition in London at the Fold Gallery. Now, I'm painting a piece for the London exhibition. This piece is 240x260 cm. 


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